The main Shia Ismaili Centers are the places for Ismaili Shia Muslims to gather together and hold various cultural, religious and educational gatherings. These Centers are a type of the traditional ‘Jamatkhanas’, a place of gathering that existed among the Muslim societies throughout the Islamic history.
The main purpose of these centers includes providing facilities for gathering the Ismaili Shias together for celebrating festivals, commemorating ceremonies, debating, learning and educating along while adhering to the spiritual needs of the people. Each center is unique in its architectural design and reflects the existence of the Ismaili communities in the city in which they are present. Currently, there are six such centers across the world.
One of the first main Shia Ismaili centers was established in the year 1985, at South Kensington, for the Ismaili community living in United Kingdom since 1951. It was inaugurated by the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher accompanied by Maulana Hazar Imam. The Center is open to general public to attend debates, seminars and exhibitions.
The second significant Shia Ismaili center was opened in Vancouver few months after the first center had been established in London in 1985. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Maulana Hazar Imam at Burnaby, the place significant for Ismaili Muslims of Canada as it was the place of their initial settlement in the country. Since then, the center has been a place to learn and pray for the Ismaili Muslims that have been living in Canada since 1975.
The third Ismaili center to open was in the city of Lisbon in the year 1998. The center’s architecture is a mix of Islamic and Portuguese cultures, giving it an ornamental design and transcendental ambience.
The Ismaili center Dubai was opened in the year 2008. The year was notable as well, being the 50th Anniversary year for Maulana Hazar Imam. The land for the center was given by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammad bin Rashid al-Makhtoum.
The Dushanbe center was the second Ismaili center to be established in Asia and fifth overall. The center’s foundation stone was laid in 2003 and the construction was completed in 2009 after which it was open by the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon.
The main Shia Ismaili center in Toronto is the most recent one to be opened in 2014. Inaurated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prince Karim Agha Khan, the center also serves as a mosque for the Ismaili communities of the Canadian capital.