Auckland’s ASB Showground Pavilion witnessed a grand exhibition called Rays of Light- A glimpse into Shia Ismaili Imamat.

Rays of Light is a photographic and multimedia exhibition depicting His Highness the Aga Khan’s lifelong commitment to improving multiple facets of the human condition. The exhibition aims to raise awareness of His Highness the Aga Khan’s work through the Aga Khan Development Network in increasing global engagement and promotion of equitable human advancement and social justice throughout the world as part of the mandate of the office of the Ismaili Imamat. The exhibit is organized around five main themes: Hope, Identity, Confluence, Harmony, and Enlightenment.

The Ismaili Imamat has a rich history of 1400 years and the exhibition commemorates 50 years of His Highness the Aga Khan's (Mawlana Hazar Imam’s) spiritual and temporal leadership of Ismaili Muslims.

Last year His Highness the Aga Khan opened this exhibition in Paris, and it later travelled to Lisbon, Portugal. The exhibition has since travelled to United States, Canada, East Africa, Dubai, Australia and now New Zealand.

His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The AKDN (www.akdn.org) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. AKDN is a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to realize the social conscience of Islam through institutional action. AKDN agencies conduct their programmes without regard to the faith, origin, gender etc. of those served by the AKDN programs.

The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$500 million

AKDN’s program partners include (amongst many Government partnerships)

• the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,

• Ford Foundation,

• World Bank

• United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

• UNHCR

• Harvard University,

• Johns Hopkins University,

• Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT

• AusAID and NZ Aid

Since Mawlana Hazar Imam took the office in 1957 there have been major political and economic changes in most of the countries where Ismailis live. His work of improving community and living conditions for the people has spread to almost all the countries in the world. He has built numerous universities, schools, rehabilitation centres, funded major restoration projects of various heritage sites round the globe, built recreational areas, funded and sent alms to calamity struck areas of various poor and growing nations.

The exhibition showcased the legacy of the Ismaili Imams, specifically that of the current Aga Khan, and enables the viewers to understand his work. The exhibition was structured in a spherical dome with a centre circular chamber for reflection, and large captioned photo frames that graced entire wall spaces within. The walls had inscriptions from the Holy Quran in specific golden colour and the Mawlana Hazar Imam’s quotes.

The exhibition also displayed Mawlana Hazar Imam’s photos with the world religious leaders, Presidents and Prime Ministers of different countries. His is contribution in the development of various nations, architectural initiatives, preaching and history of the whole Ismaili community were also showcased. On the commemoration of India’s 66th Republic Day, India awarded Mawlana Hazar Imam the Padma Vibhushan, one of the country’s highest civilian decorations.

The exhibition was brought here largely for the education and benefit of the community, but invitations were extended to guests of the community, various political and religious leaders and academics. There were volunteers at the registration counters and trained guides for the exhibition who would narrate the history and other important details of the exhibition to the viewere. The exhibition lasted for two days in Auckland, Friday 20th and Saturday 21nd February 2015, after which The Golden Jubilee International Programme was wrapped up in New Zealand for the ANZ region.