Today is a day of religious observance for millions of people. Muslims around the world look forward to Eid ul-Fitr as an occasion of peace, happiness and joy. It is a day for special prayers and a time to focus on forgiveness and generosity.
Eid ul-Fitr is an Arabic term which means the “festival of breaking (the fast).” The festival marks the culmination of the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims look inward (through daily fasting and increased spiritual devotion). At the same time, they focus outwards through acts of kindness and compassion to others.
During a recent visit to Dubai with others from Deseret Management Corp., I had the occasion to visit a communal space that is revered by members of the Shia Ismaili Muslim Community.
The Ismaili Centre in Dubai is one of those truly unique places around the world that combines architectural cues with a mission to help people find individual spiritual peace and fellowship within their local and global community.
This was not my first visit to this space. I had been there many times during a professional assignment that put me in close contact with this community through my work with the Aga Khan Development Network. But visiting with people who had never before stepped foot into a place of this kind gave me a new perspective. And bringing a noted photographer with me forced me to view it through a vibrant and different lens.
Our gracious host allowed us to sit in this peaceful place, and ask questions not just about the center, but about the faith of the millions of Muslims around the world. We learned of the importance of prayer, and we were shown the meaning of those daily prayers. With this, the mission of the place came into clearer view. And it forced me to think of the ways that I would explain sacred spaces — spaces used for contemplation, sharing knowledge and building bridges.
The official description of the Ismaili Centre in Dubai says that “…every distinct common space emphasizes a reaching outward towards others even as it facilitates a process of personal search.” May these images provide a new view into the cherished traditions of one part of the diverse tapestry of people who celebrate Eid around the world today.