Six Pakistani artists to attend opening of North America's first Islamic art museum

Published: September 11, 2014
Bankrolled by Prince Aga Khan, facility will feature more than 1,000 artifacts including rare scriptures of Holy Quran. PHOTO: WWW.AGAKHANMUSEUM.ORG

Bankrolled by Prince Aga Khan, facility will feature more than 1,000 artifacts including rare scriptures of Holy Quran. PHOTO: WWW.AGAKHANMUSEUM.ORG

TORONTO: Six Pakistani artists who specialize in miniature art, music and performing arts will be present at the opening of the first Islamic art museum and cultural center in North America, which will open in Toronto next week.

Bankrolled by Prince Karim Aga Khan, the facility will feature more than 1,000 artifacts – including rare scriptures of the Holy Quran from the 7th and 8th centuries.

There are fine collections of Islamic art in museums throughout Canada and the United States, but this will be the first devoted entirely to such works when it welcomes visitors as of September 18.

The Can$300 million Aga Khan Museum and adjacent Ismaili Center are sprawled over 6.8 hectares, hoping to cater to Muslims and others interested in Islam’s rich history.

The goal is to attract up to 250,000 visitors annually.

“We hope that this museum will contribute to a better understanding of the people of Islam in all their religious, ethnic linguistic and social diversity,” the Aga Khan said in a statement.

Most of the artifacts come from the prince’s family’s trove, showcasing the achievements of Muslim civilizations from Spain to China, said museum director Henry Kim.

At a preview on Wednesday, a piece of carved marble from 10th century Spain was among the works that sparked particular interest.

The chiseled building that houses the museum measures a massive 10,500 square meters and boasts a 350-seat auditorium with carved wood panels.

Going forward, the museum plans to host traveling exhibitions, concerts, as well as international conferences and seminars.

“Canada is a model and global hub of diversity, ethnicity and inter-mingling cultures so Toronto became the natural choice for us to set up a modern cultural center showcasing Muslim civilizations,” said Luis Monreal, head of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

The Aga Khan Museum is part of the Aga Khan Development Network, which has its footprint in several countries.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • rashid nadeem
    Sep 11, 2014 - 11:24AM

    hats off to the prince karim aga khan represnting islam in its essence


  • globalobserver
    Sep 11, 2014 - 12:57PM

    What’s the point in building such a facility in Canada? How many people in North America really care about an Islamic museum, especially in this day and age or increasing Islamic radicalism? It would have been better to build this in an Islamic country such as Pakistan.


  • Sep 11, 2014 - 1:39PM

    We need such facilities in Western countries so that they learn about the true face of Islam. How can someone build exceptional Islamic Art Museums in Pakistan where even the places of worship aren’t safe and subject to intermittent acts of terrorism.


  • Amir Ali
    Sep 11, 2014 - 1:46PM

    That’s the whole point of building such a museum in Canda…So that the extraordinary gulf of ignorance between the Muslim East and the West can be reduced…Discuss Islam with anyone in the west and all they can think of is Mosques, beards and Bin Laden…Not that there is anything wrong with Mosques or beards and there would be people who support Bin Laden, but its important to highlight other aspects of Islam and Muslim cultures…


  • Don
    Sep 11, 2014 - 1:50PM

    If it was built in Pakistan, Taliban would have blown it to bits. Don’t you think?


  • Ali
    Sep 11, 2014 - 2:28PM

    Canada is a place where people respect each other religion unlike in Most Muslim Countries.


  • Owais
    Sep 11, 2014 - 3:14PM

    Canada is one of the world’s diverse and pluralistic country and this could be the reason to open such a great building which promotes Islam and its diverse civilisations and accessible for people from all the backgrounds. Its a great effort from Aga Khan Development Network and His Highness The Aga Khan for promoting Islam in West. As far as talking about Pakistan, Do you think this vast development of around $300m plus the priceless artifacts which shows the 1400 years old history of Islam and its diversity can be taken at risk due to the security concerns.
    Hope to visit the world’s first islamic museum soon.


  • Concerned
    Sep 11, 2014 - 3:37PM

    Just a thought, After reading the headline I was hoping to read the names of the artists in the article too.


  • Asma
    Sep 11, 2014 - 3:54PM

    His highness The Aga Khan is the only leader from the Muslim community who is striving hard to promote the positive image of Muslims in the western society, along with promoting peace and encouraging diversity. This museum is just another part of that image building.


  • Laraib
    Sep 11, 2014 - 4:01PM

    The museum will feature concerts! Now that is new to development. They are trying to change the face of the actual religion to make it more appeasing and look alike to western culture.Recommend

  • Shafaq
    Sep 11, 2014 - 4:17PM

    Who six Pakistani Artist???


  • just_someone
    Sep 11, 2014 - 4:30PM

    if you really want a isl museum in pak, build one yourself…why do you always need someone from abroad to do things for you?
    and then you say foreigners meddle in pak!


  • vinsin
    Sep 11, 2014 - 5:01PM

    I am not sure, are Pakistani asking for partition of Canada?

    I checked on the net it says Canada is a secular country not pluralistic country. All pluralistic countries end up Islamic. Pluralism is another name for Muslims to spread Islam by forced conversion.


  • ajnabi Khan
    Sep 11, 2014 - 5:20PM

    It is great to see Canada providing a platform for Islamic Art Museum. I completely disagree with globeserver’s comments. Yes, people of all color and religious background in North America will be interested to study the Islamic art. It would have been nice if Pakistan had matured to at least tolerate different factions of Islam in Pakistan and build monuments and institutions to depict Islamic heritage. Turkey has an Islamic Science Museum (built by a German), now Canada has an Islamic Art Museum; but in Pakistan they only talk about ” …Sara Jahan Hamara, and kill each other…”. If the concept of building such a Museum was ever presented in Pakistan it would take them 100 years to decide which art would be acceptable to the individuals’ narrow views about what is Islamic and what is not. This level of intolerance is exhibited in Pakistan on a daily basis. It is time for Pakistani’s to wake up and really think why such a museum could not be built in Pakistan; and, bring about changes to do something positive in the future.


  • S Arain
    Sep 11, 2014 - 8:47PM

    please name the six artists going to attend this event. thank u


  • owais
    Sep 11, 2014 - 9:59PM

    Dear Vincin

    Pluralistic means where diverse people (people from different backgrounds or thoughts) or communities comes together and work together and I must say without any doubts that Canada is an example for a great country who promotes and accept Pluralism in today’s era. Islam promotes pluralism but sorry to say I cant find any Islamic country which is promoting pluralism as west is promoting (may be by following Islamic guidance, as people say). We are just trapped with calling and claiming Muslims (other then our thought) as kafirs and unfaithful.
    We promote diversity but cant help to protect diversity and it turns into non pluralistic act.
    Peace :)


  • Ahsan
    Sep 11, 2014 - 10:20PM

    I see a a lot people are eager to know the names of those 6 artists. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of the Pakistani media stories related to this development that mentioned these names. However, below is the link of Aga Khan Museum where you can find the names and detailed profiles of these artists:

    Also, the museum will also feature enthralling performance of some of the most talented Pakistani musicians including Sufi Qawwali singers Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohammad later this month. Also, Sanam Marvi and Rizwan Muazzam later this year. Good to see Pakistani talent being showcased on a large scale at what would be the first ever North American museum dedicated to Islamic Art. Below is the link to the performances. You can also buy tickets from here online:


  • Zaki
    Sep 12, 2014 - 12:24AM

    Why not! Pakistanis and Muslims already know (even though little bit) about Islam and our history. Its good to let the non-muslims know about Islam and the basic teachings of Islam… so they must know the Islam they are seeing in the form of extremism is not the true picture of Islam… @globalobserver:


  • Np
    Sep 12, 2014 - 3:42AM

    Based on the link posted it appears that 5 of the 6 artistes are of Pakistani origin.


  • ajeet
    Sep 12, 2014 - 7:16AM

    We are already aware about Muslims after watching what happened to Bamiyan Buddha statues and the fate of minorities in Iraq.


  • zulfi butt
    Sep 12, 2014 - 7:40AM

    Really…and than the debate about the sects and various ‘ulema’ jumping in the fray for their pound of flesh…We are so happy to have this project in Toronto as Canada is becoming a beacon of tolerance around the world


  • Ahsan
    Sep 12, 2014 - 10:18AM

    You are correct. Only 5 of them are of Pakistani origin. But if you read the profile description of David Chalmers Alesworth, he has worked extensively in Pakistan. So all 6 of them are linked to Pakistan in some way or the other. In fact, most of them graduated from NCA. This shows that we have one of best talents in the world and if our people, no matter which field they belong to, get exposure, they could do wonders and surprise everyone. It’s disappointing that we don’t value them they way they should be valued back home


  • haritham
    Sep 12, 2014 - 1:21PM

    @rashid nadeem:

    know some thing first and then comment other wise its never impacts some one’s personality

    love you His highness


  • A. Khan
    Sep 13, 2014 - 7:39AM

    @globalobserver: Why in Pakistan ? So the public can burn it down at the first instance ? Toronto is a great place to have this museum. Its a cosmopolitan city with people from all over the world and most of all Canada is by and large a very tolerant society.


  • Sep 15, 2014 - 2:38PM

    Perhaps surprisingly, David Alesworth is also a Pakistani citizen.


  • Hunzai
    Nov 1, 2014 - 6:31PM

    The names of six Pakistanis are:
    Bani Abidi,
    Nurjahan Akhlaq,
    Atif Khan,
    David Chalmers Alesworth,
    Aisha Khalid
    Imran Qureshi.


  • Buroung Hunzai
    Nov 1, 2014 - 6:49PM

    The estimated 250,000 visitors annually to the Agakhan museum from different ethnic and religious backgrounds all over the world will be the key point in helping us to portray the very positive image of Islam.


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