“I think it is significant that Austin has become a place where His Highness the Aga Khan would choose to have his exhibit pass through,” said Mayor Steve Adler of Austin. “We are so lucky to have [the Ismaili] community in [Austin], to have the lessons of that community here, to have the contributions of the Aga Khan.”
The Diamond Jubilee International Program, Rays of Light: Glimpses into the Ismaili Imamat, toured Houston and Austin at the end of December 2017. Numerous state and city officials joined for the exhibit’s launch in both cities, including Texas Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos in Houston, and Mayor Steve Adler in Austin.
Volunteers from the Ismaili community guided guests through an interactive presentation about Mawlana Hazar Imam’s work over the past 60 years. They also shared a virtual reality 360-degree experience dedicated to highlighting the bridge-building nature of Ismaili Centres worldwide. The dignitaries were interested in the Imam’s commitment towards improving the human condition, regardless of gender, race, religion or nationality. They were also inspired by the community’s longstanding dedication to demonstrating values of service and pluralism, and left with a better understanding of the local, national, and international activities of the Ismaili Jamat.
After the event, many attendees remarked that Rays of Light made a lasting impression on their understanding of the Ismaili faith and saw the event as a conduit to nurture a more cosmopolitan society in the Southwest region. “What’s so special about this community is that [it] encourages dialogue,” said Jose Grinan, FOX 26 Houston Anchor. “That really is the key, so that people with different faiths and different cultures can learn that we can all live on this planet together.”
Encouraged to embrace the strength of diversity and foster greater understanding, Rays of Light motivated guests to continue to harness positive change throughout the world. “I felt happy and proud to see that we help everyone in all communities, and not only Ismailis,” said Zeenat Lalani, who attended the exhibit in Austin.