Rai Dr Ashak Nathwani AM, based in Sydney, Australia, is a shining example of dedication and commitment to the Ismaili Community's Time & Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) initiative. His journey as a TKN volunteer is a testament to his passion for service and his unwavering commitment to promoting sustainable solutions.

The Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) represents a combination of two cherished Ismaili traditions: (i) submitting to the Imam of the time an unconditional Nazrana (gift) in commemorating epochal events, as a gesture of love and homage, and (ii) offering one’s intellectual capacity to assist the Imamat’s efforts for the progress of the Jamat, and the communities within which the Jamat lives.

In 2008 Ashak dedicated his TKN service to conducting comfort analyses of Jamatkhanas (Ismaili spaces of congregation) globally. From assessing building systems to reviewing designs, the focus was on conserving energy and ensuring occupant comfort. From this early involvement to his current role as an Energy & Greenhouse Gas Minimization Strategist with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Ashak leads building audits for achieving Net Zero by 2030 in over 500 locations across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, and more.

Ashak’s TKN journey has been truly extraordinary, driving significant advancements in sustainability practices within the community. In 2016 he was awarded AM – Member of Order of Australia for his services to the Ismaili Community, Sustainability and Engineering. In 2022 he completed his PhD in Comfort and Energy Conservation at the University of Sydney, where he also lectures on this subject. Demonstrating a profound understanding of TKN’s importance in community service Ashak’s tireless efforts have fostered positive and sustainable change.

His contribution to sustainability also directly contributes to the objectives of Ismaili CIVIC, a global programme under which the Shia Ismaili Muslim community across the world has united around its centuries-old tradition of serving humanity by rendering voluntary service to improve the quality of life of the communities in which they live, regardless of faith, gender and background. A key theme of the nucleus of this programme is environmental stewardship – to implement and support initiatives focused on carbon sequestration, which aim to conserve, protect, and create a more sustainable environment.

At the recent AKDN Environmental Conference in Geneva, Ashak had the privilege of being both a presenter and an attendee. It was during this event that he had the opportunity to meet Prince Rahim Aga Khan. Their conversation, marked by personal reflections, saw Prince Rahim acknowledging his appreciation for the continued tradition of TKN.

In a speech at the Canadian Parliament in 2014, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke of the contributions made by Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) volunteers and said “The importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfilment... their impact has been enormous in helping us to achieve best practice standards in our institutions and programmes”.

Ashak is an incredible example of applying professional services in a voluntary capacity to help achieve best practices. He is a strong advocate for TKN service among ANZ Jamati members, particularly youth.

He advocates “There are several opportunities to serve and if conserving and greening the environment is your passion you should consider becoming a TKN volunteer” He believes that by empowering the next generation to actively participate in TKN initiatives, we will ensure a sustainable legacy for future generations.