In the year that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Ismaili Centre, Lisbon, on July 11, Sara Sadrudin, coordinator of the Guided Tours since 2016 shares with us her perspective on the Ismaili Centre and how important it is for our community.


As a tour guide of the Ismaili Center, what was the most remarkable moment you have experienced?

There were several remarkable moments, but because of the scale and symbolism of the celebration itself, one of the moments that marked me most was the Diamond Jubilee week, which took place in July 2018: in one week, about 24.000 people visited the Centre and had guided tours, coming from various parts of the world. Many of them had never been to Lisbon, or even to Europe.

Despite the huge challenge, we felt grateful to be able to welcome Jamati members from all over the world and to have the opportunity to share this unique moment with the visitors and with the fantastic guides and volunteers from other Ismaili Centers.

It was a true manifesto of the meaning of 'One Jamat' and made us feel that distance is indeed only a metric.

What did your experience as the guided tours coordinator at the Ismaili Centre bring you?

I cannot disassociate the experience of being a guide with the experience of being a coordinator because both have simultaneously provided me with opportunities to learn and grow at a personal and institutional level.

Personally, I was able to develop values such as empathy, teamwork and communication, through the relationship with various people who were and are part of my journey. It gave me the opportunity to work with a team of guides extremely dedicated to their role as ambassadors of the Ismaili Centre and the Community, who continuously stimulate the deepening of various topics covered by the guided tours: from architecture to the identity and history of the Community.

It allows me, on another level, to be involved in the institutional context and to understand, in a more pragmatic way, how its dynamics work.

Perhaps even more importantly, I have come to understand, in these years of service, the importance of institutions for the social governance of the community, as vehicles of excellence, for members to actively participate in their own economic, social and cultural development, as well as to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and sustainable development of the society in which we live.

What architectural feature of the Centre impresses you the most?

The remarkable way it merges tradition and modernity: a building that, although built 25 years ago, remains modern and keeps up with the aspirations of the community. A building doesn't end with the completion of its construction: that moment marks the beginning of another chapter, that of making room for living.

The Ismaili Centre, based on the principles of the ethics of our faith, was designed with this purpose: to make room for dialogue and building bridges between different communities and cultures, where dialogue and the search for knowledge are promoted and where values, such as pluralism and social awareness, are always present.

How do you imagine the Centre 25 years from now?

It is difficult to predict what the Centre will be in such a distant future.

The Centre has elevated its role as an ambassadorial building, contributing to the solidification of relations that began before it was built and enhancing the construction of new relations. Relationships not only with Portugal, but also more broadly in the Lusophone context and with the rest of the world. 

I emphasize that this Ismaili Centre was perhaps the first physical structure of remarkable dimension that the Ismaili Community had in Portugal, being important for the construction of our identity and in the presentation of its values to the our society, as well as in the strengthening of the unique initiatives that have taken place in our country.
In this sense, I believe that 25 years from now, the Centre will continue to be the stage for moments that will allow us to celebrate the past, highlight the present and build the future.

What distinguishes this Centre from other Ismaili Centres in the world?

All Ismaili Centres are particular because they are built in specific temporal, social, and geographical contexts. It is in this diversity that uniqueness is found. This Centre is unique in the sense that it reflects the influences that express the identity and the aspirations of the Portuguese Ismaili Community.

And you ask me: how?

I invite you to take a guided tour in a journey of discovery of the Ismaili Centre Lisbon, through its architecture.

About Sara

An invitation in 2009 to become a teaching assistant at Dar-at-Talim marks the beginning of Sara Sadrudin's volunteer service journey. After two years teaching a class, she was invited to do a training course for tour guides of the Ismaili Center. As a second-year architecture student, grew a desire in Sara to become a guide at the Ismaili Center, with the goal of exploring more about the design and symbolism of the Center.

Her involvement in the tours grew over the years, and in 2016 she was given the opportunity to join the tours coordination team, something she has tried to take on with full dedication.