(RNS) — In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Ismaili Muslim community has launched a global 24/7 online streaming platform to keep members connected.
Called The Ismaili TV, the channel will stream programs on health, wellness, food and culture; musical and dance performances; and lectures on faith.
Nizari Ismailis comprise the second-largest branch of the Shiite Muslim sect. Their leader is Prince Shah Karim al-Husseini, known as the fourth Aga Khan, a business magnate and philanthropist who resides in Portugal. He is the 49th in a succession of imams whose lineage the community traces back to the family of the Prophet Muhammad.
“In our history, the Ismaili community has overcome numerous challenges in various parts of the world,” the announcement of the new platform reads. “A global crisis like this presents an opportunity to come together and face the challenge with a sense of hope and resolve as One Jamat (Community), Together at Home.”
The platform’s launch coincides with the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month during which communal gatherings and worship take place nightly.
Programs on the channel are aimed at taking “the opportunity to enrich our minds and bodies, to engage more with our families, to focus on faith, and to come together and strengthen our sense of community,” the announcement said.
In 1994, the first international Islamic television channel was launched via satellite network by the minority Ahmadiyya sect, a Sunni offshoot. Muslim Television Ahmadiyya broadcasts 24/7 in eight languages and has grown to include five channels. Several other channels, including Ahlulbayt TV, Islam Channel, Salaam TV and Peace TV, have launched since then.