The Open House offered an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the aspirations and architectural influences considered during the design phase of the building and its gardens.
More than just a place of gathering for the Jamat in Portugal, the Ismaili Centre also serves as a meeting point for people from different social and cultural backgrounds, and helps to create bridges between communities. It is also a place for sharing knowledge, engaging in dialogue, and celebrating values such as pluralism.
The Centre seeks, through various initiatives such as lectures, conferences, and exhibitions, not only to express the aspirations and values of the Ismaili Community but also to serve as an active medium in the development of Portuguese society.
In addition to guided tours, visitors at the Open House had a chance to take a walk and explore the Centre’s gardens, visit the ElevArte exhibition, and enjoy musical performances by Ismaili artists.
This weekend was also marked by the presence of Prince Aly Muhammad; the Mayor of Lisbon, Dr Carlos Moedas; and President of the Parish of São Domingos de Benfica, José da Câmara. The special guests were warmly welcomed by Nazim Ahmad, Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat to the Portuguese Republic; and Rahim Firozali, President of the Ismaili Council for Portugal.
During the morning, the delegation were offered a tour of the Centre and explored its main spaces, including the prayer hall. Throughout the tour, they engaged with the urban sketchers, a local group of artists performing live sketches in different areas of the Centre; interacted with the artists whose work was on display in the Exhibition Hall; and watched the Sarkosh family performing traditional Afghan music.
The ElevArte exhibition, initially launched as a virtual gallery on The Ismaili during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, was set up in the Exhibition Hall of the Centre for this celebration, and comprises the work of nine Ismaili artists. Exhibits range from paintings, sculpture, photography, and video. Through their work, the artists share with us not only their passion for art but also their views of the world.
Other performances during the weekend included the Ismaili Choir of Portugal, who performed well-known songs from the Portuguese and Indian cultures, and Irina, who presented the visitors with traditional dances from the Pamir region of Central Asia.
The Ismaili Centre’s establishment in Lisbon more than two decades ago represents a long-term relationship between the Ismaili Community and Portugal. During this time, projects have been developed and opportunities have been created in a place where values are rooted in a harmonious connection between the past, present, and future.
As Mawlana Hazar Imam stated in his speech at the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on 18 December 1996:
“It is my deep hope that this will be a Centre of goodwill, and of learning, of experience to be shared open-handedly, a place uplifting in the beauty of its design, a place for Portuguese Ismailis, of course, to meet and practise their faith, and we hope, a lasting token of our commitment to a long and fruitful relationship with Portugal.”