Minister Jason Kenney visits Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, India

Exclusive: Ismaili Mail Interview

On a recent trip to India Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Hon. Jason Kenney visited Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi. The following is a short online interview of the Minister conducted by Ismaili Mail:

jason-kenney-at-humayuns-tomb-2Ismaili Mail: Honourable Minister Jason Kenney, at the outset Ismaili Mail would like to thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions about your visit to Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, India earlier this month.

Minister Kenney: My pleasure

Ismaili Mail: What made you decide to visit this remarkable monument to the Mughal presence in India?

Minister Kenney: When this trip was being planned I asked Alykhan Velshi, my communications director, to see if we could fit in a visit to a place that would highlight some of the work the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has done and continues to do.  Humayun’s Tomb is one perfect example of AKDN’s efforts to revive interest in Islamic architecture and heritage and to plan its programs so that a maximum number of people around a particular project can benefit from it.

Ismaili Mail: What were your impressions of Humayun’s Tomb?

jason-kenney-at-humayuns-tomb-1Minister Kenney: Firstly, it is a remarkably beautiful structure typifying the Mughal period in the history of India. It also predated the Taj Mahal by about a century and served as a prototype structure around which the Taj Mahal was conceived. Secondly, I was also fascinated by the ‘Chahar Baag‘ garden reconstruction which, I am told, was done by AKDN according to the original plans and documents from the archives and reflects a Persian style and ethos. ‘Chahar Baag’ is one large garden divided into four gardens by water channels at right angles to each other, which symbolises the four rivers of Paradise. I actually think that the symbolism represented by the garden’s symmetry reminds me of the wonderful speech made by His Highness The Aga Khan a few weeks ago at the opening of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa in which he spoke poetically about the symbolism of the rock crystal part of the roof of that stunning building. There is still some reconstruction work that needs to be done on Humayun’s Tomb — parts of the outer structure are damaged by acid rain — so I look forward to visiting it again when further reconstruction work has been completed.

jason-kenney-at-humayuns-tomb-3Ismaili Mail: I should mention that this ‘Chahar Baag’ garden concept also graces the rooftop garden of the Ismaili Center in South Kensington, London, UK, the courtyard garden of the Centro Ismaili in Lisbon, Portugal, the inner courtyard garden of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Canada and will be a fixture at the Ismaili Center and Aga Khan Museum to be constructed in Toronto, Canada.

Minister Kenney: That is fascinating; I must make a point of visiting these centers when I visit the United Kingdom, Europe and Toronto in the future.

Ismaili Mail: Thank you once again, Honourable Minister Kenney, for taking the time from your busy schedule to speak with Ismail Mail.

Minister Kenney: Thank you.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

6 thoughts

  1. Congratulations for this interview with an important offfcial in the Canadian Government.

    I hope such interviews become a norm on your blog (1 a week, may be, to start off) and that you will become a source for others to quote from. RSS feeds working in reverse!

    There are lots of interesting people – both within and outside the Jamat – who have interesting thoughts and stories to tell. Of course the “burden” of work will increase for you, but as we can all see you really enjoy what you do.

    Keep up the great work….creativity has no limits….


  2. This is excellent. Thanks IM and also thanks to AlyKhan Velshi for briefing the Minister on the AKDN initiatives. Congratulations.


  3. Related:
    Gardens of the Islamic World: Aspects of their Design

    “The classic version of the ‘Chahar Bagh’ has a fountain at the centre of the garden which flows into four water channels at right angles to each other. Other water channels flow round the outside of the garden to link these up. Thus the garden is divided into four by water channels, hence ‘Four Gardens’. Some famous examples of the ‘Chahar Bagh’ lay-out are the Court of the Lions in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain, the Garden of Fin, Kashan, Iran and the Taj Mahal garden in Agra, India.”

    “The four water channels are often associated with the four rivers of Paradise, described in the Koran, which flow to the four quarters of Heaven or from them towards the centre.”

    “Gardens under which rivers flow” is a phrase used in the Koran more than 30 times to describe Paradise…”


  4. For the more concrete-minded among us the attractive image of gardens under which rivers flow in paradise, accompanied by 72 virgins, has led to some rather explosive consequences in recent decades if you know what I mean. However, for the symbolically-minded among us the perfect geometric symmetry of this chahar baag garden concept, along with the geometric symmetry inherent in man-made Islamic architectural and calligraphic structures, reflects the closest that the mind of man can come to depicting the absolutely transcendent and indescribable God of Monotheism.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.