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Aga Khan visit a key event for Ismaili council - 2008-11-22

Saturday, 2008, November 22
Burnaby Now
Brooke Larsen

Burnaby Now
A big day for Burnaby's Ismaili Muslim community is just around the corner.

The Aga Khan comes to B.C. Place Stadium Nov. 25, part of his Golden Jubilee visit.

Farid Damji, a volunteer with the Ismaili Council of B.C., said the Burnaby-based council plans to shuttle local residents to B.C. Place.

It's estimated that close to half of B.C.'s 20,000 Ismailis live in Burnaby.

'It's a very special event for the community,' Damji said in an interview.

'(The Aga Khan) is a direct descendent of the prophet Mohammed. It's a tradition that goes back 1,400 years.'

It's not known how many people will use the shuttle service, Damji said, adding plans are still being finalized.

'Many of them will shuttle or drive their cars or take transit,' he added.

The Aga Khan's visit marks the 50th anniversary since he became the spiritual leader of the Ismaili faith.

He became Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on July 11, 1957 at age 20.

The Canadian portion of his world tour runs Nov. 18 to 25 and Dec. 5 to 6.

Damji said 'several thousand' people attend the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Burnaby each week.

The centre has boards that operate in the areas of health, education, youth, women's development, arts and culture, economic planning and social welfare.

'It's really a place of prayer and congregation,' Damji said, adding citizenship courses and Metro Vancouver board meetings have also been held there.

The Aga Khan last came to Vancouver in 2005.

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