THE ISMAILI CENtre in DUSHANBE
The first Ismaili centre was opened in London in 1979. After Vancouver, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe, the last one opened in Toronto. They are considered as ambassadorial buildings in the countries in which the Ismaili Nizaris are established.
Each Ismaili Centre is unique in terms of architecture which is inspired by the local culture. The Ismaili Centre in Dushanbe has been entirely built with bricks made in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Bricks have been also used to build Ismaili Somoni’s mausoleum in Bukkhara, Uzbekistan. Ismaili Somoni is considered as the king of « Tajikistan ».
The Ismaili centre is always divided into 4 parts: social, administration, school and the religious (the Jahmat Khana). Each Ismaili centre is an exact copy in terms of structure of the prophet’s mosque in Medina.
THE EXEGESIS of the Q’ran
The Ismaili Nizari considers that the Aga Khan is the direct descendent of the prophet Muhammed through his daughter Fatima.
Karim Aga Khan IV is the 49th imam of the community. As a religious leader, he is guiding the interpretation of the Q’ran and the prophet’s hadith in order to contextualize in a modern society.
For example, there is no major crime in committing apostasy (i.e. renouncing publicly to a religion) and leaving the Ismaili community. It is a major crime in many Islamic countries and you could risk the death penalty.
For prayers, Aga Khan based on the surah of the Q’ran 11/114 said « One in the evening for now is enough. » You can pray early morning and at sunset/before sleeping.
Do’ha is the meditation time during which both men and women are present in the Jama’at Khana. 6 surah are recited.
The five towers of the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe represent the members of the prophet’s family.
voLUNTEERING and ECOLOGY
Volunteering is deeply rooted in Ismaili community. Ismaili people are asked to volunteer for any activity within the community. Aga Khan insists on the important role volunteering has in any society: « It is difficult to protect someone, to give them some bread to eat but it is easy to shoot at him!«
« In Q’ran, it is written that the Earth is not just for you, for us so we have to protect it and make the most of it, to take a maximum of benefit from it, but we have to respect it and keep it in a good state for the future generation.«
Aga Khan has created an organisation named « FOCUS » for Habitat, active notably in the Pamir region.
« Ismaili women are free and they have a strong power over our family. Our grand-mothers are really listened to. It is close to a matriarchate. » – Shakhodat Saibnazarova
There are two aspects explaining the important role of women in Central Asia:
Religious: Aga Khan III said « if a family has two children, one boy and one girl, you have to educate the girl first as she will be a mother. »
During the Soviet Union, the women have a central role in society
« We only wear scarfs for prayers. A husband can only have one wife, having a second one is strictly forbidden. » – Shakhodat Saibnazarova
If a child is born from Ismaili parents, he or she is automatically Ismaili. They then receive »Holy childhood education » at the Ismaili Centre which is about maths, history and Ismaili. This education is defined by IAS. There is no ceremony like baptism.
If someone non-Ismaili is marrying a Ismaili, he or she will become automatically Ismaili.
An important aspect in Ismaili Nizari teachings is the notion of zahir and batin. Each action and word has a perceptible sense and a hidden one.
For example, the fasting. The zahir of the fasting is « do not eat for 30 days during the day time» and the batin is « it is forbidden to do bad things during 365 days».
Another example, education. The zahir of education « the more you are educated, the more you will get money» and the batin «the more you are educated, the more you are close to God».
Aga Khan said «Consider zahir and batin in your life as equally important».
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON
ISMAILI NIZARI MESSAGE
There is no barrier with another religion.
« The whole humanity is ONE race. Everybody is our brother. » Shakhodat Saibnazarova
We don’t do proselytism.
« Diversity, Pluralism and Tolerance are the main characteristics of our faith. » Shakhodat Saibnazarova
ISMAILI NIZARI PRESENCE in TAJIKISTAN
There are 200,000 Ismaili living in Tajikistan, most of them in the Pamir region.
There is no persecution of their community in Tajikistan where the Minister of Culture is Ismaili (in November 2016).