DUSHANBE, April 1, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- An official source at the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) under the Government of Tajikistan told Asia-Plus on March 31 that the Ismaili Center, Dushanbe has been registered with CRA.

According to him, the registration document was allegedly handed over to representative of His Highness the Aga khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, on March 30.  The Center was registered as “religious association of the committee for development of Ismaili places of worship,” the source noted.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Ismaili Center, Dushanbe have denied this information as unfounded.  According to them, no talks on this subject have been conducted with the Committee on Religious Affairs.

Opened in 2009, the Ismaili Center, Dushanbe is the first such Center in Central Asia — a region that has been home to Ismaili Muslims for more than a thousand years.  It stands as both a reminder of great history and accomplishment, and a call on the peoples of the region to reflect on that inheritance as they shape the world of tomorrow.

Inspired by some of the region’s most distinctive monuments, the architecture of the Ismaili Center blends many craft and artisanal traditions of Central Asia.  It is designed to facilitate cultural and intellectual exchange, and to re-invigorate the spirit of enquiry characterized by scholars whose contributions over the centuries were encouraged by the Ismaili Muslim community under the patronage of its leadership.

As articulated by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Center, Dubai, the Ismaili Centers belong to the historic category of jamatkhana .  They are symbolic markers of the permanent presence of the Ismaili community in the regions in which they are established.  Architecturally unique, each building incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, as well as spiritual contemplation.  They serve as ambassadorial hubs, representing the Ismaili community’s attitude towards the Muslim faith and modern life, while extending a hand of friendship and understanding to enhance relationships among faith communities, government and civil society.

Since the foundation of the Ismaili Center, London — the first such Center in the Western world — was laid in 1979, another four Centers opened in Burnaby (Vancouver), Lisbon, Dubai, and Dushanbe. According to Wikipedia, following the establishment of the latest Center in Toronto, additional Ismaili Centers are expected in Houston, Paris and Los Angeles.