In addition to their shared value of caring for Allah’s creation, Danisha and Adil also believe in the importance of building bridges in a pluralistic society. “This garden represents the cooperation of cultures and shows Alberta as a pluralistic province,” Adil muses. The Aga Khan made a special note toward the end of his inauguration speech about the Islamic garden in Edmonton which is a product of the dedication of many different groups of people: “It symbolizes not only the creative blending of the natural and the human—but also the beauty of multiple, inter-cultural cooperation.”
Dr. Lee Foote, Director of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, who was also in attendance at the wedding, has said: “[Gardens] should demystify the ‘otherness’ that politics, media and special interests inject into our lives. Shared space, shared emotion are paths to pluralism that might not occur in any other venue with an agenda or entry requirement.” Glancing around the Chahar Bagh where the guests were seated, I saw many faiths and cultures represented. I imagine that over the years, as communities gather here formally and informally, the unifying power this space has will only grow.
As the wedding couple completed the signing ceremony, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly, making the fallen raindrops gleam. There were blue skies and delighted children playing. Laughter rang throughout the rest of the day, as friends and family shared the joy of witnessing a wedding in this majestic space. After all, a garden is not just for self-reflection but, as the Aga Khan points out, “...the garden, through history, has also been seen as a social space—a place for learning, for sharing, for romance, for diplomacy, for reflection on the destiny of the human race.”
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of The Ismaili Canada.