A network of private development agencies founded by the wealthy leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims worldwide announced plans yesterday to establish an Islamic museum and cultural centre in northeast Toronto.
The Aga Khan Development Network has secured a 6.8-hectare parcel of land on Wynford Drive in a commercial area in Don Mills and is seeking approval for a museum to house private art collections and artifacts dating back to the 11th century.
A Jamat Khana, or place of congregation and worship for Ismailis, and an academic and cultural centre focusing on the study of human pluralism would also be part of the complex.
"A centre like this makes sense in Canada because Canada is one of the most pluralistic societies," said Nazeer Aziz Ladhani, chief executive officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
He said Toronto was chosen because it is home to approximately 30,000 Ismaili Muslims.
The idea for the centre was conceived when the Aga Khan, the 49th imam (spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims) -- one of the world's wealthiest men -- spent two days in Ottawa last January.
Mr. Ladhani said he believes the centre will promote a better understanding of Islam, which he considers crucial in an age where people are becoming more mobile and cultures and ideas are always being exchanged.