A vibrant and competent civil society is the cornerstone of a healthy and prosperous nation. It is where people work together to create change and build a better society.

The term civil society often appears in conversations amongst people concerned with social progress and positive change. But what does it actually mean, and why is it important? Here we explore some key aspects, and consider how the ethics and values of the Ismaili community can inspire us to contribute towards a strong civil society.

Seniors in Atlanta’s Matki Band performing at the Diamond Jubilee Opening Ceremonies on July 11, 2017.

Recreation plays a key role in the physical and mental wellbeing of everyone, young and old. For seniors especially, involvement in recreation has a number of benefits in enhancing cognitive and motor skills, and provides an opportunity for socializing and developing new talents. For a group of seniors in the USA, a passion for music has shown that age is no limit to composing and performing for themselves and others.

Alaudin Bhanji with former NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, at the Mars Science Laboratory  “Curiosity” Entry Descent Landing event.

It is a rare and historic honor to have an object in space named after an individual. This is usually reserved for someone who first discovers the object, generally after years of painstaking observation of the night sky. So to be recognized in this manner is indeed an occasion worthy of note. This is precisely what happened for Alaudin Bhanji at the end of 2018.

Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, is known for its history, industry, and culture. At certain points in its history, the city has been occupied by the Celtic people, the Roman empire, and the Umayyad dynasty, which has lent a diverse character to the urban area. At a ceremony on 2 May 2019, Mawlana Hazar Imam was presented with the Keys of the City.

Mayor Rui Moreira presents the Keys of the City of Porto to Mawlana Hazar Imam.

In the historic coastal city of Porto in Northern Portugal, Mawlana Hazar Imam was presented with the Keys of the City during a ceremony at Porto City Hall on 2 May 2019.

Spectators young and old celebrate the Netball competition at the European Sports Festival 2019.

During a weekend filled with sunshine, smiles, and sports at the University of Nottingham, thousands of members of the Jamat from 15 countries joined together in a celebration of diversity, service, and health and wellbeing at the European Sports Festival 2019.

Nabila Tejpar, pictured with her Father Aziz, has continued her family's tradition of motor racing.

As we sat in a bakery at London’s South Kensington waiting for our tea and cakes, I couldn't help but sense how composed the young woman sitting opposite me was. In Nabila Tejpar’s profession however, I sensed that staying calm under pressure came with the job. It wasn't every day that you met a young Ismaili woman who was taking the UK rally driving scene by storm. 

In January 2019, an independent Master Jury reviewed hundreds of nominations for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. A rigorous process in which a team of experts investigate each of the 20 shortlisted projects is now underway.

i-CERV and the Ismail Volunteer Corps partnered with The Salvation Army to prepare gift bags for the homeless and vulnerable people in Nottingham.

At the European Sports Festival 2019, hundreds of volunteers from across the UK and Europe came together to serve across a number of areas, from sport management and daytime activities, to evening entertainment, and more. Thank you to all volunteers who offered their time and skills across the weekend, and who made the Sports Festival a memorable success.

Details of the pillars, made out of upcycled gas pipes, at the Amber Denim Loom Shed in Gazipur, Bangladesh. The project has been shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 cycle.

The shortlist of projects in the running for the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) was announced at an AKAA exhibition hosted in Kazan in the Russian Federation. The 20 shortlisted projects, which include residential, cultural, educational and industrial buildings, as well as public spaces, are located in 16 countries.

Participants congratulate each other at the Netball competition during the European Sports Festival 2019.

Thousands of members of the Jamats of the United Kingdom, France, and Portugal jurisdictions came together at the University of Nottingham to Meet, Compete and Unite at the European Sports Festival 2019. Participants, spectators, and volunteers took part in a range of sports, daytime activities, and entertainment events spread across the Easter weekend.

A penalty shootout takes place during the football competition at the European Sports Festival 2019.

The European Sports Festival took place between 19-21 April 2019, at which over 1600 participants competed across more than 40 sporting categories. Hundreds of volunteers from across the UK and Europe also came together to serve across a number of areas.

Mawlana Hazar Imam attended an event to celebrate the Aga Khan University's partnerships in Portugal, at which Mr Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (left), delivered the keynote address.

At a special dinner hosted in Lisbon on 13 April 2019, the Aga Khan University (AKU) celebrated its partnership with Portuguese universities on research and development initiatives. The event was attended by Mawlana Hazar Imam and Princess Zahra.

Princess Zahra attended a special event to celebrate partnerships between the Aga Khan University and Portuguese institutions of Higher Education.

The Aga Khan University's Board of Trustees welcomed representatives from Portugal’s government, Higher Education institutions, and leaders of the Jamat and Aga Khan Development Network to a special event in Lisbon on 13 April 2019.

Participants of the heritage walk in the compound of Darkhana Jamatkhana, the first Jamatkhana established in Mumbai.

There are many Jamatkhanas in India, a handful of which have celebrated over a century of existence. In this article we will explore three of India’s oldest Jamatkhanas, including their histories, architecture, and the role they play in the community today.

Tamarind dhow, by Rashida Alibhai

Art has been shown to be of therapeutic value, creating a sense of calm, engaging creative areas of the brain and offsetting depression, especially in older adults, offering a valuable pastime for everyone to consider. Here, we feature the works of four artists, all senior members of the Jamat, who arrived in the US from different countries, and who display their cultural sensibilities in their colorful creations. 

An illustration of a polo game from a manuscript of the poem Guy u Chawgan (the Ball and the Polo-mallet) dating from 1546, during the Safavid dynasty in Persia.

Sports have been part of the human experience throughout history, as far back as Sumerian times (4000 BCE), and ancient Egypt. They were often associated with religion, making sports a sacred activity. In those times, common sports included wrestling, archery, and martial arts, each requiring meditation and intense concentration.

World Health Day is commemorated on 7 April all over the world, to raise awareness and draw attention towards the importance of global health. To mark this occasion, The.Ismaili highlights the need to take care of one’s well being in the face of increasing public health concerns.

Ismaili health professionals from the US trained doctors in Khorog on heart disease. Here, a doctor checks a patient's blood pressure.

Nestled at the base of the Pamir mountain range lies Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO), a place of immense beauty within a harsh and rugged mountainous region — home of Nasir Khusraw. The population in Badakhshan is predominantly Ismaili and live in small villages along the slopes of the Pamirs or near the tributaries of the Pyanj River that divides Tajikistan from Afghanistan.