“Great architecture, like great art, captures esoteric thought in physical form.”
– Imam Shah Karīm al-Husayni Aga Khan IV
These architectural masterpieces commissioned by the Ismaili Imamat, such as the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Campus, are actually texts (nass) by which the Ismaili Imam announces his spiritual authority (walayah), instruction (ta’līm) and esoteric exegesis (ta’wīl) to humankind through the symbolic language of architecture. But the subtle meanings and esoteric mysteries embedded within the “built texts” of the Imam can only be envisioned through the eyes of Ismā‘īlī ta’wīl, or esoteric exegesis, in order for their spiritual meanings to be grasped by the onlookers.
“The sayings of the Imams have ta’wīl (esoteric meaning), just as the Speech of God and [the sayings of His] Messenger have ta’wīl, because they are the witnesses of God over the people.”
– Sayyidnā Nāṣir-i Khusraw, (Knowledge and Liberation, tr. Hunzai, 113)
The Ismaili Gnosis blog is proud to announce a four part series of articles, titled Esoteric Thought in Physical Form: The Aga Khan Campus in Toronto, that seeks to uncover and share some of the “esoteric thought” behind the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Center and Jamatkhana, and the Aga Khan Park. The four parts are entitled as follows:
Mysteries of Light: The Aga Khan Museum (part 1)
Prophetic Architectures: The Aga Khan Museum (part 2)
House of Light: The Toronto Ismaili Center and Jamatkhana (part 3)
Garden of Gnosis: The Aga Khan Park (part 4)
Part 1, The Mysteries of Light (nūr): The Aga Khan Museum, is here (link).