Philanthropist Hassanali Lakhani founded Noor Cultural Centre

Philanthropist Hassanali Lakhani (Hon. LLD ’05), a generous supporter of York University and founder of the Noor Cultural Centre, died on Saturday. He was 89.

York awarded Dr. Lakhani an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2005 in recognition of his charitable works and significant contributions to Toronto’s Islamic community. As head of a business family that came to Canada in the 1980s via England after two generations in their native Kenya. Dr. Lakhani in 2003 established Toronto’s Noor Cultural Centre, which offers religious, educational, recreational and social programs, with an emphasis on justice and gender equality.

Right: Hassanali Lakhani (centre) in 2005 when he received his honorary degree, with then President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden (left) and then Chancellor Peter Cory

The centre, named for family matriarch Noorbanu Lakhani, serves as a hub for dialogue on Islam and other world faiths. This includes the York-Noor Lecture Series, offered in collaboration with York since 2003. Dr. Lakhani and the family also established the Noor Fellowship in Islamic Studies at York and later the Noor Chair in Islamic Studies, currently held by Prof. Ruba Kana’an in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Dr. Lakhani had a lifelong history of philanthropic contribution to the many communities in which he has lived and conducted business. Appointed president of the Ismaili Council of London, England, by the Aga Khan in 1973, he continued to support the Ismaili community on his arrival in Canada.

His son, Karim Lakhani, is a member of the board of directors of the York University Foundation. The Lakhani family work together in the hotel industry and jointly own a golf course north of Toronto.

Funeral services for Dr. Lakhani will be held tomorrow, Nov. 9, at noon at the Ismaili Centre, 695 Middlefield Road (southeast corner of Nashdene Road and Middlefield), in Scarborough.

Memorial prayers will be held on Friday, Nov. 12, at 1:20pm at the Noor Cultural Centre, 123 Wynford Drive, Toronto.