Houston will soon be home to the first Ismaili Center in the United States.
There are six other centers around the world — in London, Vancouver, Toronto, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
The center will be located on the corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard. The Ismaili Center will also house a Jamatkhana, which is a “place for spiritual contemplation and prayers for the Ismailis.”
Ismaili Muslims are a part of a culturally diverse community occupying more than 25 countries. According to a news release, they “express their values through betterment of self and society, search for knowledge, embracing pluralism, building peace and working to build and improve communities.”
The Ismailis estimate there are 20 million individuals in its community, making it the second-largest in the Shiite branch of Islam.
“The Ismaili Center will be a place where Houstonians of all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life will find engaging, thoughtful, and compassionate programs, and people. That will be in keeping with Ismaili values and the values of the Ismaili leader, the Aga Khan, who last visited Houston in March 2018,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “It’s fitting that the Center will be designed by a world renowned architect who has lived, studied and worked around the world, and that the green space will be designed by a landscape architect who has already worked on a major Houston park. This is a milestone for our city.”
Farshid Moussavi will be the architect for the center.
The Ismailis have a 1,400-year history that traces succession from Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad.
Currently, the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary imam of the global Ismaili Muslim community.
Ismaili Centers are architecturally unique and each building includes space for “gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, as well as spiritual contemplation.”
“A central purpose of the Ismaili Centers is to encourage mutual exchanges and understanding between diverse peoples, communities and faiths. The Centers are, therefore, not only places for spiritual search, but also spaces for broadening intellectual horizons and fostering an appreciation of pluralism,” a news release said.
There is an Ismaili Jamatkhana in Sugar Land, which hosts more than 50 outreach programs for the Houston community.