Monday, April 28, 2008

Aga Khan on State Visits to West Africa

Ferid Nandjee, AKDN Resident Representative, Youssouf Bakayoko, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and His Highness the Aga Khan during the arrival at the Felix Houphouet Boigny International Airport in Abidjan.
Photo Credit: Gary Otte

Click here for complete news and photos on AKDN website...

Groundbreaking Islamic Documentary Comes to Stanford for Bay Area Debut

Sponsored by the Office of Religious Life and the Vice Provost of Student Affairs at Stanford University.
April 30th, 2008 – Stanford University – 7pm – Open to public – Tickets: Free with RSVP

AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE: The Aga Khan & the Ismailis
At a time when the divides between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds seems to be getting worse, not better, this is a film that must be seen. PLUS: After the film there will be a special panel and Q&A with Shamir Allibhai, Filmmaker & Harvard Master's candidate; and Shazad Bashir, Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University;
To RSVP for this event, please click here:

**Seating is limited. RSVP guarantees you a seat.**

April 30th, 2008 – 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Annenberg Auditorium, Stanford University
435 Lasuen Mall
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Tickets: FREE to students and general public

Click here to go to Director Shamir Allibhai's blog page...

Book launch of "A REGAL ROMANCE" and Other Memories by Ameer Janmohamed

Coastweek - - 150 friends, literati and members of the publishing world in London gathered for a sumptuous lunch at the Oatlands Park Hotel on Sunday 20th.

Click here for the complete article...

Prof. Quassim Cassam, Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at University of Cambridge writes: "....this is more than just a family history.
It also paints a vivid and insightful picture of life in Kenya before and after independence.
With its tales of migration, the Empire and race, this very personal story is also a social history.
Anyone interested in the culture, outlook and history of ethnic Indians and the Ismaili Muslim community in East Africa should read this fascinating book".

Interesting people you meet every day...

Zee's notes: It never seizes to amaze me the people you meet everyday and in the strangest of circumstances. When I organized a travel group from Vancouver 2 weeks ago for the LA Darbar we had 3 great ladies (sisters) who joined us and I briefly met one of the sons who lives in LA - though I didn't find out till yesterday when I googled him as to what he does - well what a humble fellow he turned out to be - turns out Munir collects post-graduate degrees as a hobby at Ivy league Universities (Columbia and Harvard no doubt) - seriously though he is now at University of California - Berkeley as a Director of Islamic Studies !

Munir Jiwa, director of the Center for Islamic Studies, and assistant professor of Islamic Studies, has a rich background in engaging difference. His research has addressed mass media portrayals of Islam and Muslims. Jiwa was previously at the University of Toronto, where he was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Department and Center for the Study of Religion. He holds a master’s degree in religion from Harvard and a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University.

University of Western Ontario's Faisel Adam Gulamhussein is a winner of the Governor General's Medal.

Faisel Gulamhussein

Zee's Notes: We missed this in our website a couple of years ago - but this math genius achieved the highest academic honor. Great Stuff !!!

Gulamhussein's win of Governor General's Medal makes it a trifecta for Statistics and Actuarial Sciences...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Morning Chai and Skype - bringing families closer...

Morning Chai has now partnered with Skype - the worlds cheapest way to connect with friends and on the banner for long distance savings...

In the news April 27th, 2008 from AKDN and

Prince Hussain, Princess Khaliya and Prince Rahim listening to the proceedings during the Inauguration Ceremony for the Komoguel I Mosque in Mopti.
Photo Credit: Gary Otte

Aga Khan in Mopti and Timbuktu...

Prince Amyn inaugurates the Ismaili Economic Forum in Dubai...

Gala strengthens partnership between Ismaili Community and Quebec...

Ismaili Young Achievers Programme (IYAP), Uganda...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Canadian Ismaili Games - Vancouver, BC - Venue Map

View Larger Map

Zee's notes: We are now less than a week away from what should be a weekend that many will never forget in Vancouver. The magic of the Canadian Ismaili Community will descend on the many venues throughout the city.

Above is the venue map where many of the activities will occur as well as places of interest such as JK's, Athletes village and actual sports venues. Click on the 'View Larger Map' link above for places where you'll see the Ismailis renew or make new lifetime frienships, see many gifted athletes and to generally have a fun weekend. You can get directions as well as ensure you get the most out of the games.
As well here is the UBC map :

From the Games Website:


Click here for the latest schedules.

Facilities - Sporting Venues

Badminton - UBC, Student Recreation Centre
Basketball - UBC, Student Recreation CentreUBC, War Memorial
Chess- UBC, Student Recreation Centre
Cricket - Minoro Park (Sunday)Brockton (Monday)
Golf - Northview Golf & Country Club
Int'l Volleyball - UBC, War Memorial Gym
Soccer - UBC, Soccer Fields
Squash - Vancouver Racquet Club
Swimming - UBC, Aquatic Centre
Table Tennis - UBC, Osborne Gym
Tennis - UBC, Tennis Centre
Track & Field - UBC, Minoru Park
Trad'l Volleyball - UBC, War Memorial Gym
Wrestling - SFU (Saturday)UBC, Osborne Gym (Monday)

Friday May 2nd

9 am to 4 pm: Athletes arrive in Vancouver where they will be met at the airport and transported to the registration venue. Athletes should attempt to arrive in Vancouver either Thursday evening or Friday no later than 2 pm.

TBD: Jamatkhana at UBC

8 pm: Opening Ceremonies and Athlete Meet and Greet featuring live entertainment, great food, and the lighting of the CIG Torch

Saturday May 3rd

7 am to 6 pm: The tournament begins with round robin play and qualifying heats in all sports

10 am to 4 pm: Athletes and guests are welcome to enjoy the Canadian Ismaili Games Village at UBC

TBD: Jamatkhana

8 pm: CIG Celebration featuring live entertainment, athlete showcase, great food, and much more! Invite all of your friends and family to this celebration of sport and the Golden Jubilee!

Sunday May 4th

7 am to 6 pm: The Games continue with playoffs beginning in some sports

10 am to 4 pm: Athletes and guests are welcome to enjoy the Canadian Ismaili Games Village at UBC

TBD: Jamatkhana at UBC

8 pm: Feature Games and BBQ. The stands will be packed as some of our best compete in basketball and volleyball

Monday May 5th

9 am to 4 pm: The Champions are crowned as the playoffs in all sports are completed. Medals will be awarded at the conclusion of each final event

4 pm: Athlete Departure Lounge. Live entertainment and refreshments before you board the bus taking you to the airport

Where Hope Takes Root - MHI's new book out soon

In Where Hope Takes Root, a collection of talks given over the past six years, the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims—a sizable number of whom live in Canada—sets out the principles that inform his vision of peaceful, productive societies. He returns again and again to the three cornerstones upon which his many years of work in the developing world are based: democracy, pluralism and civil society. Democracy, always fragile, must be nurtured in practical and flexible ways, he says. Pluralism must be embraced in both fact and spirit. And engaged civil society, which the Aga Khan defines broadly as including doctors’ and journalists’ associations, women’s groups, social movements and village organizations, must be actively supported in countries around the globe.

Projected release: May 2008


Check out these DVD's at Amazon !!!

Aga Khan and the Ismailis: Collector's Edition

Director: Bill Cran;Shamir Allibhai;Jane Chablani

Amazon Review:
Kelly Fulkerson (Cambridge, MA) - What I found most interesting, and refreshing, about this film was the attention paid to the Aga Khan's relationship to the Ismailis, rather than focusing solely on theology. The focus on the story of Prince Karim allows for an informative and accessible means of learning more about both the Aga Khan himself and the tradition as a whole. The film is very well-organized and does a nice job of detailing the development and history of the Ismaili community, especially through the discussions from professors and other speakers. Overall, it is very easy to follow while simultaneously raising complex discussions.

An Islamic Conscience: the Aga Khan and the Ismailis

Director: Bill Cran;Shamir Allibhai;Jane Chablani

Amazon Review
J. Roy (GA USA) - Well researched and well directed video. Covers overall aspect of the Ismaili tariqah of Islam. It seems impossible to ever come across this great man and at the same time he hardly speaks. For that reason I am most thankful for the interview by the Aga Khan which includes in this video. I am truly inspired by the work of Aga Khan Development Network. Hope one day we will have a DVD on Fatimids.

Living Camera: Aga Khan (1961)

Director: Robert Drew

* He is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismailis and a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. As Imam his main role is to guide his community - spiritually and in secular matters. * The Aga Khan's original name is Prince Karim and he was born on Dec 13, 1936 * He became Imam when he was just a twenty year-old student at Harvard on July 11, 1957 when the previous Imam died * The Aga Khan places an emphasis on tolerance, dialogue and pluralism and sees this as rooted in the ethics of Islam. He advocates a balance between the spiritual and the material world. * The Aga Khan is the founder of the Aga Khan Development Network which is the largest private development agency. It spends $400Million/year and through its activities, employs 70,000 people. * 2007-2008 is the Aga Khan's Golden Jubilee - 50 years as spiritual leader / head of the Ismailis


Exceptional Coffee Table Book !

Under the Eaves of Architecture: The Aga Khan: Builder and Patron (Hardcover)

Zee's notes: This book is not about architecture. It is about how MHI is making a difference in the lives of millions of people in the world and bringing hope where there seemed to be none. It is powerful yet the message is so simple. There is an interview with the author where MHI candidly reveals his motivation to helping the poorest citizens in the globe. Did you know that MHI had planned and had been accepted to attend MIT and study Sciences before changing his mind and eventually enrolling at Harvard for a degree in Islamic Studies...

Book Description: This thematically arranged book displays the full range of the Aga Khan's patronage of architecture.
The Aga Khan is one of the most ardent patrons of architecture and historic preservation in the world. Since inheriting his title as spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, usually known as Ismailis, fifty years ago, he has fostered and commissioned numerous structures and restored a multitude of buildings from North America to East Africa. The prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture, first given in 1980, recognizes projects that benefit the Muslim world for their excellence in contemporary design, community improvement and development, restoration, re-use, and area conservation. For the first time, this book presents projects from universities and historic restoration programs that bear the Aga Khan's name to religious centers, museums, and development efforts in more than twenty countries. Through the Aga Khan Development Network, the Aga Khan occupies a unique place in the world of architecture and this book reveals the range and breadth of his activities.
About the Author: Philip Jodidio has published numerous books on contemporary architecture, including Architecture: Art and Architecture: Nature (both by Prestel) and Cairo: Revitalising a Historic Metropolis (Aga Khan Trust for Culture). He lives in Grimentz, Switzerland.

Aga Khan: The architect of universal good

In an exclusive interview with Weekend Review during his visit to Dubai, where he inaugurated the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan said the problems of extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam

Click here for complete article...

The Annual Schools' Conference - Aga Khan Education Board for UK

'Contemporary Conversations' is an Annual Schools' Conference sponsored by the Aga Khan Education Board for the United Kingdom.

The Aga Khan Education Board for the United Kingdom (AKEB), in collaboration with teachers from secondary schools, has launched an Annual Schools' Conference, 'Contemporary Conversations', for students in Years 11 and 12. This conference furthers one of AKEB's key objectives; namely "adding value to formal education".

Click here for the details on this initiative...

Zee's Notes: Interesting topic for this years Conference topic - 'Ethical Shadows on Sports' coinciding with the first ever World Ismaili Games scheduled to be held in Nairobi June 23-29th.

The Aga Khan in America

Eboo Patel is founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that promotes interfaith cooperation. His blog, The Faith Divide, explores what drives faiths apart and what brings them together. He is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. An American Muslim of Indian heritage, Eboo has a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He is on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation and the Advisory Board of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center. Eboo is an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select network of social entrepreneurs with ideas that could change the world

Click here for his perspective on MHI's USA Visit in The Washington Post ...

Aga Khan Visits Mali

His Highness the Aga Khan, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Khaliya are received at Bamako airport by President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré. Credit: Gary Otte

FSA hires ex-Barclays executive Naguib Kheraj as an adviser

Naguib Kheraj

The Financial Services Authority has hired Barclays' former finance director to advise it on enforcing the recommendations of its own review into the way it handled the collapse of Northern Rock.
Naguib Kheraj, who was finance director at Britain's third-biggest bank between 2004 and March last year, will join the City watchdog on a part-time basis from Monday.

Read complete article here...

Mr Kheraj uses his financial knowhow for the benefit of the Wellcome Trust, where he is a member of the investment committee, and is on the executive committee of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. He is also a governor of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which promotes Islamic scholarship, and is the chairman of the Aga Khan Foundation's UK branch.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

MHI to visit India and Bangladesh May 11-22, 2008

The Golden Jubilee will now swing over to the Indian Sub-Continent in May as MHI will visit India (May 11-19) and Dhaka, Bangladesh (May 19-22).

International Registration for the India visit is now open at:

International Registration for the Bangladesh visit is also open at:

Over the next few days Morning Chai will look at different perspectives on India - the land of the tiger - as well as some tidbits on my own experiences the last time I visited India 12 years ago - it was a life altering 15 days !

For our readers in the US find the best Flight and Hotel deals with our US-India Travel Partner:

Buy 1 Get 4 Free

Morning Chai Family - where you live...

FYI - a listing of the cities where readers open their Morning Chai

Abbotsford,Abu Dhabi,Addison,Albuquerque,Ankara,Antananarivo-MADAGASCAR,Atlanta,Austin,
Calgary,Cambridge,Canoga Park,Chicago,Chitral,Cleveland,
Coquitlam,Coral Springs,
Dallas,Damascus,Danbury,Dar es Salaam,Diu(U.T.)India,Dubai,
Edison,Edmonton,Fairfax,Fort McMurray,Gilgit,Guelph,Guildford,
Las Vegas,Lewisville,Lilburn,London-UK,London-ON, Los Angeles, Luanda,
Nairobi,Nanaimo,New Albany,new westminster,New York,North Vancouver,North York,NORTHRIDGE,Nottingham,
Palm Bay,Panchgani,Paphos-Cyprus,Paris,Phoenix,Pickering,Plano,Port coquitlam,Port Moody,
Raleigh,Randallstown,Regina,Richmond Hill,Richmond,
Saint petersburg-Russia,San Antonio,San Diego,San Francisco,San Jose,Scarborough,Seattle,Sherwood Park,St. Albert,Stratford,Sugar Land,Surrey,Switzerland,Sydney-Australia
Toronto,Torrance,Vancouver,Vernon,VICTORIA,Virginia Beach,Washington,Waterloo,Whitby
Wichita Falls,Windermere,Winnipeg,

Zee's Notes: It is a small world after all !!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Edmonton youth volunteer among Stars of Alberta

Sixteen-year-old Malika Ladha, the recipient of the youth award, has a volunteer portfolio that began even before childhood memories started to take shape.

Read complete story here...

Zee's Notes: Don't get me started on how the Ismaili Volunteer experience has been the foundation for so many individuals achievements. There are so many books on how Voluntarism leads to so many good things in life and certainly for us Ismailis it is something that is part of us - we live it 24x7. In the next few weeks I hope to highlight some pretty incredible individuals who give to others.
Princess Zahra, 10 years ago in Edmonton, spoke so eloquently on Voluntarism and it's contribution to society - if you have not read her remarks click here...

AKFED invests in E. African submarine cable network

Seacom, a Mauritius-based company, is constructing the submarine cable network that will link East Africa, South Africa, Europe and Asia.

Read complete story here...

Zarkava dazzles

Apr 13, 2008

Zarkava, hailed by many as racing's next superstar, further enhanced her reputation with a scintillating return to action at Longchamp.
The unbeaten Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained filly was settled towards the rear of the runners in the Prix de la Grotte in the early stages, but took closer order with two and a half furlongs of the mile contest left to run.
Christophe Soumillon pressed the button a furlong out and the response was electric as she shot clear of Conference Call and Lessing.
Connections are in no hurry to decide which of the two 1000 Guineas - French or English - to go for following the two-and-a-half-length victory.
Owner the Aga Khan's racing manager Georges Rimaud said: "We were very pleased with that performance. She acted very well on this rather heavy ground.
"The two Guineas are open. She is entered in Newmarket and in France and I suspect that the owner will decide with the trainer. A decision will be taken closer to the time."
The French Derby is next for High Rock following his victory in the SG Private Banking - Prix de la Force.
"He was very impressive to win a very good race like that," said trainer Jean-Claude Rouget.
"I think he will go straight to the French Derby."

Zee's Notes: Zarkava is the daughter of Zamindar - another star performer from the Aga Khan Studs. The Aga Khan stable of fillies has been racing in England since the early 1900's. Did you know that MHI's family has been associated with horses since the 6th century in Arabia - click here to view the complete story

Ummah Cum Laude;Remapping The World

A View Toward The New Ismaili Centre, Designed By Charles Correa.

Through The Leadership Of The Aga Khan, An Ambitious 17-Acre Redevelopment In Suburban Toronto Will Bring Two Global Cultural Institutions To Canada Supporting Art And Culture In The Ummah, Or Muslim Diaspora.; As A Jury Member For The 2007 Aga Khan Award For Architecture, Architect And Professor Brigitte Shim Discusses The Importance Of This Unique Awards Program.

Click here for complete article...

Dubai Darbar...Yasmin's story !!!

The Ismaili Centre Dubai. Photo: Gary Otte

A week ago I promised readers a story of one of my friends , who works in the same building as me, about the experience she had in Dubai during the March Darbar so here it is....

Yasmin's (name changed at her request) wish was to attend the original rumored December Dubai Darbar. She works for a division of Air Canada and so she planned to take a week off and use her passes to make her way to the much anticipated event. As it turned out December is a busy month and she could not get the time off and was given the alternative week of March spring break. Well as we all know that proved to be prescient as the actual Dubai visit and Darbar fell exactly on the days she was on holidays. She then got lucky with flights in March at an unbelievable rate on the internet - March Spring Break is virtually impossible for airline employees to use their passes - for her and daughter, who is pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education - this is important so remember this.

After the Darbar Yasmin was travelling in a car with a local Ismaili friend and as they were crossing a bridge he pointed at a structure saying it was the Ismaili Centre which MHI has opened earlier with the Dubai rulers. Though it was closed to visitors that day she made her friend drive there to take some pictures. She asked the guard to allow her to take some pictures and his reply was that he had to go ask a higher authority for permission. More negotiations followed and a second guard came and went back to ask his superior. On his return he looked her in the eye and said the only person who could authorize her entrance said to bring this lady and her daughter immediately inside and to boot, give them a full tour as they had travelled thousands of miles.

After the standard tour Yasmin and her daughter were taken to a different floor, from what I understand not part of the regular tour, where it looked like classrooms - as it turned out they were standing at the exact location where the Early Childhood Education program is to be delivered - Yasmin noticed her daughter eyes filled with tears and after probing her the young lady's first words were:

' Mom - I know exactly why we came here and I have decided what I want to do in my life is to one day teach right here'.

Now everyone in their own life has had some experience that confirms their faith and moreso strenghtens it and after listening to Yasmin - yes she was filled with emotion and sobbing uncontrollably - it is without a doubt, in my opinion, that Allah in his own way keeps reminding us mere mortals that he is in our hearts and that we simply need to allow him and his grace to enter our existence - whether it is when we are alone facing our own daily struggles and challenges or whether he is in spirit playing Dandia Raas with us.

So today's punch line is that why do we fear when faced with the unknown when the answers are simply within us - all you need is to find the light shining within yourself and look at life for what it is - a gift from Allah to be lived fully and with gusto.

Yesterday I met a gentleman who I know from my JK who has undergone 6 - count them six - surgeries for Cancer. I know him to be a very positive person and so I asked him how he manages to view life as such and without a blink he said:

' It is my faith - no matter how many challenges I am faced with I know fully in my heart that I am blessed by the grace of Allah and I have submitted completely to the will of the Almighty and that he knows the best road for me and will guide me accordingly - fear is not in my vocabulary'

I didn't ask him any more questions !!!

I think I'm becoming a Waezeen - anyhow let me know if you are ok with my thoughts on life though for those that know me you know I also love to enjoy the Duniya side of it...

I also met a couple in LA - Salim and Shabira are friends from Calgary - who have also been blessed with Allah's touch and have done something very special - call it giving back or call it generosity - either way it will warm your heart and you'll hear their story in a few days.
Zee's notes: I have never been to Dubai though it is probably the Number #1 destination in the world and for many it is at the top of their 'Things to do in my life' list - have a look at what has transpired there over the past decade...simply amazing !!!

Best Summary and Pictures of MHI's USA visit on

Click Here for a great summary of MHI's visit to the US and don't miss the outstanding collage as captured by official photographers Zahur Ramji and Gary Otte.

Zee's notes: I'm thrilled to see the outstanding work done by - for many years a void existed in official news and information on our dynamic community - remember if there are 15 million Ismailis then there are as many potential stories - with the advent of the Internet a handful of private websites including Morning Chai have emerged to fill this void - though the Institutions are wary of the non-offical sites it must be apparent that there is demand from the local citizenry and my only wish is that the private sites exercise caution and good judgement in what is published - whether it be albums, forums, blogs etc.

Hotel Deal for CIG in Vancouver May 2-5th, 2008

To celebrate the Canadian Ismaili Games, the Holiday Inn Express Riverport is pleased to offer a special rate for Participants, Family & Friends.

To take advantage of these exclusive rates, simply call the hotel at: 604-241-1830.

Zee's notes: Richmond, home of the Vancouver International Airport, has over the past few years transformed into Canada's most cosmopolitan city with it's influx of residents - particularly from Hong Kong - these entrepreneurial immigrants have brought their initiative and imagination to turn Richmond into a truly international city with world class restaurants and shopping. Richmond is rumored to have the highest number of Bimmers and Mercs per capita in Canada - a testament to the city's vibrancy.
The Hotel is located within 30 minutes of all the CIG events and is right on Highway 99 - just in case the boss (Mrs.) wants a quick shopping spree across the border to Bellingham/Seattle

Young Canadian Ismailis recognized for their achievements

Six Ismailis were recently named to prestigious “Top 40 Under 40” lists in Canada. These accolades recognize individuals who are influential and making a difference in their fields of pursuit. Winners are chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their achievements, vision, leadership and community involvement. Despite the diversity of their backgrounds and activities, they each attribute their success to the values instilled in them as Ismailis, as well as the opportunity to thrive in the fields they love.

View the profiles and pictures here in the

Ismaili Center, Designers Must Work With Neighbors


The topic of my third grade religious education class this week was the Saints.
We discussed how a few centuries ago, ordinary people were persecuted and discriminated against because they wanted to practice their Catholic faith in a land where the Catholic faith was not widely accepted. It seemed strange to these eight year olds that there were ever times and places where people could not just go to a Catholic church or pray as these religious education students are being encouraged to do.
We also learned a prayer in Spanish and the names of places named after Saints in multiple languages as well as English. The point of the lesson was that God is not just for English speaking Americans, but that He is worshipped in many countries throughout the world by people of different races who speak various languages.
Glenview is a very diverse community, home to many individuals of different beliefs with different cultural backgrounds and traditions.
I was pleased to see that 13 religious leaders of various faiths recently encouraged the Glenview Village Planning Commission to approve the Ismaili house of worship request. As Reverend Graham Smith, rector of St. David's Episcopal Church affirmed, the addition of the Ismaili congregation would bring with it a "contribution to the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity that make Glenview such an attractive place to live."
When religious leaders stand up and make a statement about the benefit of including the Ismaili community in our local religious dialogues, I am comforted to know that Glenview will not become a place where history will say we made martyrs of the Ismaili faithful for their fight to practice their religion within our community.
However, there are valid issues that have been raised by concerned residents. The additional traffic that the proposed house of worship will bring to the area is a legitimate worry. Even with the location currently vacant, traffic inevitably queues up waiting to turn left from Golf onto Shermer and can become dangerous at times as drivers seem to extend their ability to turn left past their allotted green light. Adding to that congestion in any way does not seem to be a wise decision. Hundreds of worshippers coming in hundreds of cars would exacerbate an intersection that the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) has been discussing improving for years and is only now adding to its wish list, but not formally planning. Further, a site serving a community of 900 worshippers with access and egress off Shermer at MacArthur Lane might encourage visitors to cut through the narrow streets of Park Manor where children are out playing and cars are often parked. Worshipers arriving at 5:00 in the morning might not be the best alarm clock for a neighborhood that does not intend to arise at that hour.
Getting out of my neighborhood during the morning and evening rush hour is always a challenge. There is a Methodist church at the end of my street but that really does not affect the traffic flow. The problem is the only direct way off of my street is Harlem, a major thoroughfare. At times, generally when pre-school is about to start or let out, traffic can get backed up on Harlem waiting to turn into the car pick up line at the church. But the delay lasts five minutes at the most and the number of vehicles involved numbers closer to thirty not in the hundreds. There is also a difference because so many people frequenting the church are neighbors. They are not coming from towns between Chicago and Northlake; many of them consider the church part of their neighborhood.
What can be done to truly make the Ismaili center and its designers act like a part of the community, like a good neighbor? They cannot rely upon the way other communities have embraced their centers, but must address their proposed new neighbors' concerns. They must work with the Planning Commission, the Park Manor Civic Council, and their own members to devise a plan that meets everyone's needs to the most extent.
It is likely that all sides will have to make compromises but that is standard where different parties have divergent agendas. The neighbors will have to accept that the site will not stay vacant forever and any proposed use will bring an increase in traffic and noise. The site planners may have to enclose parking, relocate their driveway or offer the community some other concession that shows they are truly willing to be good neighbors. The Village Board will have to weigh the pros and cons of the proposal, no easy task since they are comparing apples and oranges, and determine what is best for Glenview as a whole. For the parties directly involved, it is likely the party that is the least willing to compromise who will be the most disappointed by the outcome.

Aga Khan's cultural centre crown jewel for Don Mills

Apr 02, 2008 04:30 AM Christopher Hume Urban Affairs Columnist

Perhaps the Aga Khan knows something we don't. Why else would the spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims have chosen a 7-hectare site near Don Mills and Eglinton to build his $200 million community centre/cultural campus?

Most Torontonians would have dismissed that location without a second thought; after all Wynford Dr., where the old Bata and Shell corporate sites were located, is more a drive-by corner than a destination.
But once the transformation is complete, sometime around 2011, it will be a full-fledged international destination, a place for all.
The three-part project consists of a museum and a community/religious centre surrounded by gardens. Though work won't begin until later this year, drawings show a complex of rare beauty that, even more amazing, is rendered in the language of contemporary architecture. Unlike most such religious/culture centres that have appeared recently in these parts, this one looks to the future, not the past.
The designer of the museum, intended to house the Aga Khan's exquisite collection of Islamic art and artifacts, is none other than acclaimed Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. The Pritzker Prize winner has conceived a state-of-the-art facility clad in white stone and set off by a dome—like metal structure on the roof. Inside, there will be a 350-seat theatre as well as all the usual features – library, cafĂ©, restaurant and storage.
It sits north of the centre by Charles Correa, another celebrated architect, in this case from Mumbai. A modernist known for his sensitivity to local conditions, Correa has contributed a low-slung building also highlighted by a multi-faceted dome rendered in glass. The centre will contain the meeting rooms and various spaces. The jamatkhana, or prayer room, is the sacred part of the complex; it will be a simple, unadorned area lit by the dome above. Clad in limestone, this large rambling structure reads like a geological feature, part of the landscape; it's the largest element on site.
In between and all around will be a series of gardens, ponds, fountains and rows of trees that can be expected to erase all signs of suburbia. Designed by Vladimir Djurovic of Lebanon, this green space takes its inspiration from the traditional Islamic idea of the garden as a place of quiet contemplation and enclosed beauty. It must also serve to block out the nearby parkway and off-ramp, the major arterials and the whole apparatus of a postwar car-based city.
Interestingly, the Aga Khan, who signs off on all plans, was strongly in favour of the gardens – and underground parking for 750 cars. His Highness was concerned about what kind of image the centre will send to the population at large. He wanted non-Ismailis to feel as welcome as possible, and also to be confronted with the sheer beauty of the complex.
Given the number of surface lots in Toronto, one might think we love them, but thankfully the Aga Khan doesn't. Though his demand will raise the cost of the project, that's a price he's willing to pay.
For this, and everything else, we should be eternally grateful. It is revealing that the Aga Khan and his foundation treat this city with more respect than most developers who work here. Not only did Toronto win the museum over London, England, the plan will empower three important architects to help transform Toronto.
The Aga Khan is also hard at work in Ottawa, converting the old War Museum of Sussex Dr. into the Global Centre for Pluralism. There's another Ismaili centre, also designed by Maki, under construction in the embassy district.
Too often the subtext of the diversity debate focuses on what Canada can do for immigrants. This time, it's about how much they can do for Canada – and Toronto.
Christopher Hume writes on urban development, To reach him, email

The Star...

Tanzania: Mzizima Student Gets U.S. $100,000 Scholarship

The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)
22 April 2008Posted to the web 22 April 2008

A student of Aga Khan Mzizima Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Mehak Tejani, has won a scholarship worth $100,000 (about Shll5 million).
A press statement issued by the school yesterday said Tejani
has been selected from applicants worldwide to receive an International Leader of Tomorrow (ILOT) award to study at University of British Columbia (UBC). He will be completing his IB diploma next month.
The statement further said that this is a highly competitive and sought after scholarship worth $24,000 (about Sh27.6 million) annually for four years. It helps outstanding international students who would otherwise not afford University education overseas, said the statement.
It explained that the UBC ILOT award recognizes students who have achieved academic excellence and shown leadership potentials through community participation.
With a history of community service, leadership roles and an outstanding academic record Mehak was a strong candidate.
His selection for the Aga Khan Education Service, Tanzania, student of the year award, at the recently held Ismaili Students Awards ceremony is proof to this achievement, the statement said.
Responding, Mehak said: "I am really excited because I feel that this award is an opportunity for me to practice and achieve my ambitions. I am going to do my best to keep up with its name, The International Leader of Tomorrow."

Zee's Notes: This is exciting news as Mehak will be attending UBC in Vancouver - I hope to meet him while he is here and give Morning Chai readers further insight into this remarkable achiever.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Aga Khan ends tour of the US; visits Georgia to promote education program

The Canadian Press

ATLANTA — The Aga Khan, billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of 20 million Ismaili Muslims worldwide, ended an eight-day tour of the U.S. stressing the importance of tolerance and education.
He did so as he announced his initiative to establish schools in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
His trip also included stops in Texas, Illinois and California.
It was part of the Shia Ismaili Muslim commemoration of the Golden Jubilee, which marks the Aga Khan's 50th year as imam of the religious sect.
In a speech Friday at a high school in Atlanta, he sought to raise awareness about the Aga Khan Academies, a $1-billion education initiative to build 18 schools in 14 countries in Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East.
The project grew out of a need to develop well-educated, global citizens who would make a difference in their communities, the Aga Khan told the audience.
"Our Academies Program is rooted in the conviction that effective indigenous leadership will be the key to progress in the developing world, and as the pace of change accelerates, it is clear that the human mind and heart will be the central factors in determining social wealth," he said.
"Too many of those who should be the leaders of tomorrow are being left behind today. And even those students who do manage to get a good education often pursue their dreams in far off places and never go home again."
The Aga Khan, who was born and educated in Switzerland, is a Harvard-educated businessman who is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
In his capacity as imam, he is also chair of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of private, non-denominational development agencies focused on social, cultural and economic development.
The Aga Khan Academies are an initiative of the network's Aga Khan Education Services and, under the plan, 18 schools are planned in 14 countries at a cost of about $50 million per school.
That's a commitment of nearly $1 billion.
The first school opened in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2003, and others are planned in India, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Tanzania and Uganda.
The academy curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate program, which is derived from a program rooted in academics, critical thinking, and a respect and appreciation for cultural diversity.
The program is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Atlanta this week and the Aga Khan addressed the organization as its speaker for the Peterson Lecture, named for the program's first director general.
Previously rooted in Judeo-Christian communities, the Aga Khan Academies represent the first expansion of the IB curriculum into Muslim cultures.
"Squaring the particular with the global will require great care, wisdom, and even some practical field testing, to ensure that it is really possible to develop a curriculum that responds effectively to both the global and the tribal impulses," the Aga Khan said.
"The people with whom we will be dealing will present different challenges than before."
To that end, there will be an emphasis on inclusion, ethics, global economics, world culture, and comparative political systems, the Aga Khan told the crowd of educators, administrators, followers and observers.
"The failure of different peoples to be able to live in peace amongst each other has been a major source of conflict," he said.
"Pluralism is a value that must be taught ... As we work together to bridge the gulf between East and West, between North and South, between developing and developed economies, between urban and rural settings, we will be redefining what it means to be well educated."
The 70-year-old leader - also known as Prince Karim Aga Khan IV - succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, at age 20 on July 11, 1957, becoming the community's 49th imam.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Must do's in Vancouver May 2-5th, 2008

Zee's notes: Ismailis from all over Canada will be in Vancouver the first weekend in May for the Canadian Ismaili Games. Here is the first of many places of things to do and see in Vancouver.

Simbas Grill - The Road to Kenya starts here...

Many readers phoned me and emailed to say I missed Vancouver's finest authentic East African eatery that Ismailis also love to frequent. Kurshid and Yasmin Khan have created and simply own this concept (E. African style) ever since they opened their first location in Burnaby on Edmonds in Burnaby - not far from the very first Burnaby JK that opened in the early 1970's. You could almost say the Khan's have brought Ismailis back to their Burnaby and African roots in more ways than simply opening an award winning restaurant. This 30 seater proved to be so popular that another one followed in downtown Vancouver on Denman St.While the menu has been what brings people back for more you also get the personal charm of the hosts and their kids Shezmin and Nabil in this family run business. I have had the pleasure of being in both locations and every single time I take away the memory of Yasmin (Burnaby) and Kurshid (Denman) joining our table for a few minutes to make sure we had a good time. The other amazing thing they have done is to install Karaoke systems and their daughter Shezmin belts out a few tunes on the weekends - guests are also welcome to join in to make the night one to cherish. A few weeks ago we were at the Denman spot with some Edmontonion auto dealers in town for the Auto Show and well you can imagine - take it from me Albertans can party on a world class level

Yasmin and Kurshid Khan

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

1,100,000 hits in the last 12 months

Incredible - thanks to all our readers for your continued support - Morning Chai logged 1.1 million hits in the last 12 month period - when I started this it was strictly as a hobby - something that would be fun to do and meet interesting people - I had absolutely no idea that it would morph into being something Ismailis would embrace with such gusto - and the best part has by far been the people I have met over the past 3 years.

Thank You


Summary by Month



Canada - Golden Jubilee Visit 2008

The Registration for the Canadian Jamat (Phase One) officially was launched on April 4th. Here is the website to register online - deadline is May 4th

Phase 2 will be the International Jamat Registration.

For Vancouver the site of the Darbar has not been announced - here is the venue in 2005.

Most Merciful is not welcome on Morning Chai

I run Google Ads to help pay for some of the expenses for Morning Chai. I have to let you know that a constant thorn on my site has been the gentleman who runs the MostMerciful website. I believe he is an ex-communicated former Ismaili who lives in my hometown of Vancouver. Now I have nothing against anyone who chooses to believe or not believe in following the Ismaili faith - but I am certainly not one to encourage this individual to hate monger the Ismaili faith.

I'll come straight and say I am an Ismaili homey - that is I consider myself lucky to be born into the Ismaili faith and will defend it to my last day. Any faith that preaches the ethics of generosity, kindness, hard work, voluntarism, pursuing knowledge, living a balanced life and to have a living spiritual guide is A okay with me.

Anyway, the good news is that I discovered how to block Websites on my Google Adsense account and inshallah I hope, within the next 24 hours, never to see Mr. Most Merciful on Morning Chai again.

In the next few days I hope to have some more stories on my LA Darbar visit.

Cick here for my first one...

His Highness the Agha Texas

Posted by jillcarroll at April 15, 2008 07:15 PM

This past weekend I attended an event hosted by Governor Perry celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the imamate of His Highness the Agha Khan, who is the 49th in a hereditary lineage of imams stretching back to Prophet Muhammad. His Highness is the spiritual leader of the world community of Ismaili Muslims, who are a part of Shi'ite Islam.
The world - at least in the West and here in Texas - doesn't know enough about the Ismailis. And it's time we do. This worldwide, transnational community of Muslims supports major intellectual, artistic, humanitarian, cultural and archaeological projects around the world. Moreover, within the next 10 years or so, Houston will become the North American headquarters for Ismaili Islam, and they will construct a worship and community center on several acres of centrally located real estate at Studemont and Allen Parkway. Houston will join and elite handful of other large international cities in being a hub for the global humanitarian efforts of this impressive group.
I still get asked all the time: "where are the moderate Muslims?" Well, they are all over the place - here in Houston, in Texas, in the United States - all over the world in fact. The Ismaili community is but one of any number of groups and branches in Islam made up of people who, like most everyone else here, works hard to raise their families, have a nice life, and contribute to the community.
I encourage you to learn about this group. You can start your inquiry at an official site of Ismaili Islam - Check it out. I hope you'll be pleased.

Video on San Antonio Preparations - type in Ismaili in Search Videos then click box and play

His Highness the Aga Khan visits Georgia

At the same time the Pope is visiting America, so too is another spiritual leader. Today, His Highness the Aga Khan arrived in Atlanta.The Aga Khan is spiritual leader to more than 15-million Ismaili Shia Muslims worldwide. More than 100-thousand Ismaili live in the U-S, including 20-thousand here in Georgia. More than three dozen supporters were on hand to greet the Aga Khan, as his plane touched down at Charlie Brown Field outside of Atlanta. He was greeted officially by Governor Perdue's Chief of Protocol. On Friday the Aga Khan will have lunch with the Governor. The trip is part of the Aga Khan’s Jubilee Celebration, commemorating 50 years leading the world’s second largest Shia community

Side Dish: Golden Jubilee requires caterer to fill large bill

Web Posted: 04/15/2008 04:01 PM CDT
Bonnie WalkerExpress-News Staff Writer
Consider your grocery list for feeding a group of more than 30,000 people over a long weekend.
Greg Kowalski, owner of The RK Group caterers, had such a list in hand as he and his staff, as well as volunteers, prepared to serve the event last weekend. It was part of the Golden Jubilee celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the Aga Khan IV. Other Golden Jubilee events will be in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of the Shiite Ismaili Muslims and direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.
Two examples from the food list were 9,000 pounds of basmati rice and 200,000 bottles of water. These qualified as out of the ordinary, even for this seasoned caterer.
"This event is so big — and it happened so quickly. It's really amazing," said Kowalski last Thursday as he contemplated the magnitude of his job. The group would be convening at the Alamodome and the Convention Center.
Originally, the event was planned to be in Houston, where the population of Ismaili Muslims is far larger than the number who live in San Antonio. It reportedly was moved here because of unavailability of convention space in Houston.
The RK Group's chef and vice president of culinary operations, Jeffrey Magatagan, had been working "around the clock" since the catering company got word of the event the previous week, according to Kowalski. "He's (Magatagan) an incredible logistician."
One challenge was that there had been little notice before the announcement that the Aga Khan would be in attendance, which pushed the numbers into the stratosphere.
Contrast this to another event coming in October. The RK Group will be serving the American Dental Association at the Convention Center, with an estimated attendance of between 40,000 and 50,000, he said.
"But I knew about this convention six years ago," he said. RK won't be serving organized meals for the dental association, though. Food service for the Golden Jubilee attendees of last weekend's event started at 9 p.m. Friday and went through Saturday and Sunday, including tea breaks in between meals.
Volunteers from the group, more than 300, were to be on hand to help with the food service, said Kowalski. Part of Magatagan's job was to organize and manage these people, who all were "eager and anxious to help."
Some of the dishes included chicken "naan-wiches," sandwiches made with traditional naan flatbread, the spicy chicken tikka masala and sweet snacks such as bundi ladoo, fried balls of bean and rice flours and nuts.
Back to that grocery list: Kowalski said that his group worked directly with purveyors in New York and New Jersey to obtain the right products in mass quantity.
Side Dish appears on alternate Wednesdays in Taste.

San Antonio Side Dish...

MHI in California - April 14-15, 2008

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pose for a photograph at the Governor's private office in Santa Monica, California. Photo: Gary Otte

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Golden Jubilee USA 2008 - Los Angeles April 15th

Morning Chai publisher Zahir 'Zee' Karim was part of the Canadian contingent of Ismailis in LA for the Darbar held April 15th. This is the first in a series of articles to follow on his observations and experiences in the City of Angels.

Shukran - Thank You - Merci - Gracias - Ahsante sana - Shukriya - Arigatou !!!!!!!

While we can certainly say thank you in well over 465 languages - how do we use words to convey the appreciation of well over 10,000 visitors who convened in the City of Angels for 3 days that may never be forgotten and in my view will be hard to equal. So here is my quick summary of the Canadian experience at the LA Darbar.

The stampede started as early as Thursday (one week ago) and built to a crescendo by the weekend as Ismailis from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto started landing at LAX.

On many Alaska Airlines flights the flight attendants welcomed the Golden Jubilee travellers on the public speaker and wished them a great time - what a start. Many flew direct from their cities but many had 1-2 hour stop overs in cities such as Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake, Chicago and Houston. Indeed many drove 3 hrs from Vancouver to Seattle to take advantage of the cheap fares - in some cases under $200 - there was also a seniors group that started their journey at 11:00 pm at Burnaby Lake JK on a bus to Seattle airport where they arrived at 3 am for a 6:30 am flight and landed at LAX at 9:30 am - almost 12 hours later. I happened to be at LAX when this group arrived and I think they just wanted to see a bed...

At LAX , since Friday, every visitor was greeted by LA Ismaili volunteers who welcomed them with a cheery 'Darbar Mubarak' and a package of information of events. If you happened to be at the baggage claim at LAX on the weekend you would have run into literally hundreds of Ismailis from your hometown.

Downtown LA was abuzz with Ismailis from around the globe and all the hotels were filled many weeks prior. My guess is that 75% of the rooms around the Convention Center were taken by the Golden Jubilee visitors. While LA is a major city the Downtown core is not the most tourist friendly on weekends and evenings - though there were no incidents that I know or heard of for the 3 days. As you entered the hotel lobby there was an information desk set up with volunteers who gave out a little goody bag of snacks - another great touch.

The organizers of the LA Darbar also threw another surprise on Friday and Saturday by renting a hangar at the airport with a dinner and dandia raas program. The Barker Hangar was alive with Canadians who were by now starting to settle in and feel the LA welcome.

Sunday the official program started with JK at the Convention Center and dinner and entertainment in the evening. For Vancouverites it was like being at the PNE - probably the same for our neigbors in Calgary and Edmonton. The LA convention facility is a massive structure and the first 2 days the events were held in the converted giant underground parking lot. The main worry for the visitors were their Darbar entry cards and a separate hall was set up to handle the International registrants - it seemed the largest line up would have been 6 minutes at the most - though the time passed so quick as you met fellow Ismailis and conversation flowed about the weekend, where they had gone shopping etc.

Another nice touch and a huge benefit was the shuttle services provided to the Convention hall from the hotels in the downtown core as well as at Airport hotels. The buses ran every 15-30 minutes from Sunday evening to Tuesday evening.

Monday was a full day with events planned from 10:00am onwards and it was an early evening to prepare for the next day as visitors retreated to their hotels just after 9:00 pm after a quick meal. The LA organizers had catered all the meals for the 3 days with a contractor in San Jose as it would have been a logistic nightmare for our volunteers to cook and transport the food - it turned out to be a very wise move and as with the registration there were no line ups whatsoever - the Darbar program was moving along seamlessly by the day. For the day of the Darbar the doors were to open at 4 am - the shuttles would start at 3:00 am with MHI scheduled to arrive at approximately 11:00 am.

Tuesday morning - Downtown LA was a sight to behold. Picture this - starting at 2:30am hundreds of cabs zipping back and forth between the hotels and the Darbar hall - seems a lot of visitors decided to beat the shuttle crowd. The punch line here is that with well over 15,000 Ismailis going into the facility between 4am and 8am there were no lineups as 24 security scanners processed all the entrants with relative ease. The Darbar was held in the massive main hall and each individual was provided a continental snack pack to hold them for the morning - not many restaurants open at 3 am in downtown LA - so no quick Tim Hortons or Starbucks.

While I won't go into the specifics of the Darbar itself I would be remiss if I didn't say that Tuesday was a magical day. The main comment that came out of the Darbar was that MHI was extremely happy. He spoke longer than I have ever remembered in a Darbar and he was very specific about defending your faith, being united, educational opportunities in the knowledge society, to be prudent as the economic outlook for not only the US but for the rest of the world would be soft and that when the jamat rejoices later in the dandia raas he would be there in spirit. In talking to many people on Wednesday - when most visitors went back home and again LAX was taken over by Ismailis - the Dandia program on Sunday night was simply the best they have ever experienced - seems the band was extraordinary or was it simply the excitement of the morning - either way it was the perfect ending of an incredible journey.

The LA organizers left no detail untouched in how to make this visit the most welcome for their visitors - every touchpoint was a positive one and from my viewpoint no stone was left unturned - the attention to detail was simply amazing. It will be said that the LA Darbar will be one that sets the standard for any in terms of venue, facilities, transportation, meals, logistics and organization. If the President of the USA Council Dr. Mahmoud Eboo s well as the Western USA Council Samia Rashid were reading this here is what I would say to them:

MHI mentioned 2 things at the Darbar which makes me think of the LA Darbar organization. The first is the notion of best practices to achieve results. The LA experience, to me, seemed to be the culmination of probably the lessons learned of previous Darbars though in this case the execution of the event was like a painting - truly a work of art - I can imagine the planning that has to be coordinated and the thousands of hours required to carry out this mammoth undertaking - but in the end the people of Los Angeles were empowered to deliver an unbelievable Darbar and they delivered - with flying colors - whether they gave time or money.
Secondly, the LA Darbar created a unique bond of unity for all the visitors. In many cases it felt like a reunion where families got together from different parts of the world and lifelong friendships were made at the many events during the week - so when the visitors remember the uplifting experience of LA they will remember the people of LA who made it possible - for me what I took away from LA was the fact that I am 'darn' lucky and proud to be an Ismaili - thank you Los Angeles!!!

I have heard that people often compare the London Darbar 14 years ago and the Dubai Darbar 2 years ago as being the ones to remember, though I was not at any of those, it will be very difficult to match LA for the overall experience. In the coming days we will hear of the many stories of why and I hope to share with you some of those.

If you were in LA or for that matter in any of the other US cities let me know your comments so we can share with our readers.

YAM or as they say in Los Angeles - ADIOS !!!

See The for more details on MHI's US Visit

Zahir Bhaidani - Live in Ottawa

Wow - this video we shared with our readers just 10 days ago has now got over 8,000 views - I believe it was less than 2,500 just prior to our newsletter going out - thanks to all - I still have tears everytime I watch this...

Here is a spellbinding version of a Ginan we all learned as children - this one will send chills up your spine...