More than 12,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims and others are expected to gather at BC Place this weekend, celebrating Mawlana Hazar Imam’s diamond jubilee.
His Highness the Aga Khan is on a world-wide tour to commemorate 60 years in the position. He was in Edmonton earlier this week before arriving in Vancouver Thursday, where he was greeted by new Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Hazar Imam also visited with Premier John Horgan where the pair spoke about the Ismaili community’s spirit of service and pluralism, as well as potential collaborations between the province and the Aga Khan Development Network, according to a statement by the Ismaili Imamat.
Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived in Vancouver on 4 May 2018 in preparation for his visits with the Western Canadian Jamats #DiamondJubilee #AgaKhan #Ismaili #OneJamat #CanadaVisit pic.twitter.com/GcSX9iULEf— The Ismaili (@TheIsmaili) May 5, 2018
The Aga Khan is known globally for his advocacy to end global poverty and spread secular pluralism. In 2010, he was made an honorary Canadian citizen by former prime minister Stephan Harper.
Last year, the Aga Khan was part of an ethics scandal after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family took a controversial vacation with him in 2016.
|His Highness the Aga Khan speaking at the 2017 United Nations Global Leadership Dinner. (Diane Bondareff/UN Foundation)|
Thousands flock to Vancouver to see spiritual leader
At 20 years of age, the Aga Khan became Imam – or spiritual leader – of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in July 1957, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.
He is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and spiritual leader for over 15 million people around the world who belong to the Ismaili faith, including 120,000 in Canada.
Anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 people are expected to attend celebrations at BC Place Saturday and Sunday, including about 5,000 volunteers who have been preparing or the event for weeks.