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 TheIsmaili.org

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 TheIsmaili.org - 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.org...

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 chume@thestar.ca.

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.