Museum of Islamic art to open in Canada
Brass bowel inlaid with silver and gold- Mamluk Period - Photo courtesy of The Akhakhan museum Facebook page

CAIRO: North America’s first museum of Islamic art and culture is scheduled to open to the public Thursday Sept 18 in Toronto, Canada, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) announced on its website.

The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper celebrated the foundation of the museum May 28.

“The museum aims to stimulate a greater understanding and appreciation of the Islamic civilization’s contribution and to encourage dialogue, promote tolerance and mutual understanding among people,” the Aga Khan said.

The museum’s permanent collection is the Aga Khan personal family’s collection which includes more than 1,000 artifacts of rare manuscripts, drawings, paintings, ceramics, Qurans, beads, bowls, metalwork, and architectural decorations.

The entire collection has been sourced from various countries covering a broad geography from Spain to Southeast Asia and they span more than 13 centuries of Islamic history.

A 700-year-old Mamluk-era bowl that is thought to be sourced from Egypt or Syria is among the artifacts on display. It is made of brass and inlaid with silver Arabic calligraphy bearing names and titles of a Mamluk high official of sultan al-Malik al-Nasir Muhammad (1285-1341.)

The Historic Cities Support Program (HCSP) of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture funded the creation of Cairo’s Al Azhar Park in 1992, which had been the site of a garbage dump for over 500 years.

The HCSP also funded the restoration project of the 12th Century Ayyubid wall west of the Citadel of Saladin along with the rehabilitation of significant Islamic monuments in Historic Cairo.

Claiming direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad, the Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims, 100,000 of whom are estimated to live in Canada.

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