The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, generally known as the Ismailis, live in over 25 different countries and span many different cultural and linguistic groups. A Muslim sect, they venerate the religious leader Ismail (d. 760) as the seventh Imam. His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, is the 49th Imam.
The first Ismailis arrived in Canada in the mid-1960s from the United Kingdom and other Western European countries. Many were professionals who found work in the areas of education, health, and business. This steady growth continued until the early 1970s when political changes in East Africa and Asia led to a second large wave of Ismailis moving to Canada.
Today, Ismailis are settled throughout Canada, and number some 70,000 to 75,000. An estimated 20,000 Ismailis live in Toronto. Ismaili Torontonians play a significant role in community affairs. Over the years, the community has launched several fundraising events. They have several fundraising activities for charities, including a ten-kilometre annual run to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Arthritis Society, Child Find, North York General Hospital Foundation, The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation, and the United Way of Greater Toronto. The community has also held blood donor clinics in conjunction with the Red Cross Society and more recently Canadian Blood Services. Toronto Ismailis have also participated in the annual Ontario Multicultural Theatre Festivals and Easter Seal Telethons. Members of the community occupy senior positions in the professions, government, and business.
The Ismaili community in Canada is governed by volunteers under the aegis of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council of Canada, headquartered in Toronto. Local Ismaili Councils are based in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.
Ismailis celebrate all the major Muslim festivals. They also celebrate Eid-e-Ghadir (commemorating the Prophet Mohammad’s designating his cousin and son-in-law Ali as the Imam); the birthday of Hazrat Ali; and Navroz (the beginning of the new year). The dates for each event are calculated according to the Muslim calendar.
THE ISMAILI, (Tel. 416-467-0199, 789 Don Mills Rd., Suite 786). Managing Director: Alam Pirani.
ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR CANADA, (Tel. 416-467-7261, Fax 416-467-0961, 789 Don Mills Rd., Suite 786). The objectives of the Councils in relation to their active areas of jurisdiction are the social, governance, administration, guidance, supervision, and coordination of the activities of the community and its institutions and organizations. President: Firoz Rasul.
ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR ONTARIO, (Tel. 416-751-4001, Fax 416-751-6401, 149-151 Bartley Dr). President: Shiraz Lakhani.
ISMAILI TARIQAH & RELIGIOUS EDUCATION BOARD, (Tel. 416-751-0440, Fax 416-751-6126, 149-151 Bartley Dr). Provides religious education for members of the community and training for teachers. Chair: Bashir Rahemtulla.
IPS INDUSTRIAL PROMOTION SERVICES, (Tel. 905-475-9400, Fax 905-475-5003, 60 Columbia Way, Suite 720, Markham). President: Nizar Alibhai.
FOCUS HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE CANADA, (Tel. 416-423-7988, Fax 416-423-4216, 789 Don Mills Rd., Suite 786). An agency established to provide emergency humanitarian assistance. It also facilitates the reparation of displaced persons and resettlement of refugees.
The Aga Khan Museum is visible from the Don Valley Parkway and is the biggest Islamic museum in the Western World.