Speech at the Foundation Ceremony of The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Khorog

Describing a vision for Khorog as “the Jewel of the Pamir,” Mawlana Hazar Imam delivers his address at the foundation laying ceremony for the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Khorog. Gary Otte

Speech by Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony of The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Khorog on Monday, 3 November 2008

Bismillahir Rahamanir Rahim

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Asadullo Ghulomov,
Your Excellency Governor Qodiri Qosim,
Your Excellency Governor Munshi Abdul Majeed,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman

I would like to begin these comments this morning by welcoming you to this most happy occasion, this historic event, to celebrate the laying of the Foundation Stone of this first Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Tajik-Badakhshan.

I would like to say how deeply happy I am, that this Foundation Stone ceremony will occur during the 50th year of my Imamat. I can think of few events in this year which will have given me the happiness which this one today will bring me and inshallah all the people who will participate in this event.

At the beginning of these comments, it is appropriate to situate here, one of the functions of the Ismaili Centre in the tradition of Muslim piety. For many centuries, a prominent feature of the Muslim religious landscape has been the variety of spaces of gathering co-existing harmoniously with the masjid, which in itself has accommodated a range of diverse institutional spaces for educational, social and reflective purposes.

Historically serving communities of different interpretations and spiritual affiliations, these spaces have retained their cultural nomenclatures and characteristics, from ribat and zawiyya to khanaqa and jamatkhana.

The congregational space incorporated within the Ismaili Centre belongs to the historic category of jamatkhana, an institutional category that also serves a number of sister Sunni and Shia communities, in their respective contexts, in many parts of the world. Here, the Jamatkhana will be reserved for traditions and practices specific to the Shia Ismaili tariqah of Islam. The Centre on the other hand, will be a symbol of confluence between the spiritual and the secular in Islam.

I would like today to situate what the Centre and the Jamatkhana aspires to be in the town of Khorog. It is my hope that the town of Khorog will become the Jewel of the Pamir. The gem cutter, the person who prepares the jewel, cuts it and cuts it and polishes it and cuts it and polishes it until he has fashioned the gem stone in to a stone of absolute purity with no clouding, absolute purity. And the gem cutter has to do his work very carefully with a lot of time, because if he makes a mistake, he can not bring back the part of the stone that he cut away by mistake. And this is what I hope, with the President of the Republic, His Excellency the Governor, we will be able to do over the years ahead, to improve the town of Khorog, to make it the Jewel of the Pamir.

And we will seek to improve, all of us together, the quality of the environment in which we live, bringing clean water to everywhere where the people live, bringing energy to all the places where people live, improving the schools and health facilities, improving and restoring our historic buildings which are representations today of our cultural history, and thanks to the Governor Niyozmamadov and his gift of land, we today have a new park in Khorog, inshallah we will build the University of Central Asia, we will build this Centre, and while working together, step by step, we will make Khorog the Jewel of the Pamir.

And I want to thank again His Excellency the President, the Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency the Governor, the Governor of Afghan-Badakshan who has done us the honour of being here today, I want to thank everyone who has made this event possible today. But more than that, who is making new things happen in partnership and in friendship. Like the University of Central Asia, which is a very complex exercise, but inshallah, we will do it properly.

And every time I come back to Khorog, I will ask myself: Are we moving towards making Khorog the Jewel of the Pamir?

Thank you.