Ismaili Center in Houston
Houston, Texas: On October 17, 2000 Texas Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry and Sugar Land Mayor Dean Hrbacek, inaugurated the foundation of the Ismaili Jamatkhana (place of gathering) and Center in Sugar Land, Texas. Situated on an 11.5-acre site, the 36,000 square foot building will offer a new architectural landmark - inspired by the Islamic tradition - to the State of Texas.
L to R: Alaudin Bhanji, President, Ismaili Council for USA; Honorable Tom Phillips, Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court; Rick Perry, Lt. Governor, State of Texas; Dean Hrbacek, Mayor, City of Sugar Land, and Sada Cumber, President, Ismaili Council for Southwestern US.
In his remarks at the foundation ceremony, Lt. Governor Perry spoke of the Ismaili Muslim community’s global philanthropic endeavors in applying the principles of Islam “to make life better for people of all faiths and all walks of life.” Sugar Land Mayor Hrbacek said that the Ismaili Center “represents a milestone in the progress of the city, a broadening of its character and is a welcome addition to its architectural and cultural diversity.” The foundation ceremony was also attended by elected representatives of the Federal, State and Local Government, the Judicial sector and civic officials.
Mr. Alaudin Bhanji, President of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the United States of America, said he hoped that the “Center will come to represent a pillar in the bridge between different cultures and foster better understanding.” He continued, “We hope that it will become a symbol of the growing understanding among our neighbors of the real meaning of Islam, as a spiritual and thinking faith.”
A colorful exhibition included models of the new center and photographs of other Ismaili centers around the world. The exhibition also depicted the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world’s largest private philanthropic organizations. Its several institutions promote programs in the areas of social and economic development and culture, in areas of Africa and South and Central Asia, including Pakistan.
The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center will consist of a cultural center, exhibition space, conference and learning facilities, offices and spaces of gathering. The center’s architectural design draws on the ethical vision and the cultural legacy and learning of the Islamic tradition.
The center has been designed by Mr. Ramesh Khosla, who has worked on the World Trade Center buildings in New York, Montreal and New Delhi, India. His architectural designs have earned international acclaim and recognition, including the Canadian Governor-General’s Award for Architecture and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Prominent members of Houston’s South Asian community were present at the event, including Shah Haqqi, from Houston Mayor Lee Brown’s office, Dr. Moein Butt, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, Sheikh Nouruddin Yamani of Dawat-e-Hadiyah, Mariam Issa, President of Pakistan American Volunteers Association, Sajjad Chaudhry, Bobby Singh and Lufti Hassan of South Asian American Political Action, and entrepreneur Ghulam Bombaywala.