Item(s) for the ‘Ismaili News’ Category

Mar 12,2014

Speaking at Brown University on Monday, the Aga Khan — the spiritual leader for some 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide — focused on the potential of social media and Internet-based technology to bridge cultural divisions.

But the 77-year-old Harvard graduate, whose appearance was part of the university’s 250th anniversary celebration this month, also warned of how that technology can shield people from how complex the world really is.

“More information at our fingertips can mean more knowledge and understanding, but it can also mean more fleeting attention spans, more impulsive judgments and more superficial snapshots of events,” said the Aga Khan, whose given name is Prince Karim Al Husseini. “Our world grows more complex, but too often the temptation is to shield [ourselves] from complexity.”

Addressing what some have referred to as the “inevitable clash” between the Muslim world and the industrialized West, the Aga Khan, who is believed to be a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed, argued that there is “much more in harmony” between the two cultures.

Centuries ago, he said, Islamic culture flourished because of its “inclusiveness,” with “great Muslim centers of learning” bringing together people from different cultures to enrich mankind’s understanding of the world.

“What the West has seen of the Muslim world has been through a media lens of instability and confrontation. What is highly abnormal in the Islamic world often gets mistaken for what is normal,” the Aga Khan said. “That is all the more reason for us to work from all directions to replace fearful ignorance with empathetic knowledge.”

On the continued tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims — Islam’s two major sects — he called for a “thoughtful, renewed emphasis” on “pluralism” and “civil society.”

“Does the Holy Koran not say that mankind is descended from a single soul?” said the Aga Khan, who is the 49th imam, or spiritual leader for Ismaili Muslims, a branch of Shia Islam. “In an increasingly cosmopolitan world, it is essential that we live by a cosmopolitan ethic, one that honors human rights and social duties [and] advances personal freedom.”

Born in Switzerland and currently living in Europe, the Aga Khan is also chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a nonprofit development organization he founded in 1981.

In his prepared remarks and a question-and-answer session with Brown University President Christina Paxson, he highlighted that organization’s work in the areas of health care and education in Africa and Asia.

The Aga Khan said universities and non-governmental institutions like his must continue to be agents for change in the developing world.

“The success of democracy will require more than democratic governments,” he said. “In places where people live in fear, they can be voices of hope.”

The message resonated with a number of those in attendance Monday.

“There was just so much in there about Brown and the role these top Western universities should play in development,” said Aarish Rojiani, a high school senior from Georgia who attended with his family and was among many Shia Ismaili Muslims in the packed auditorium. “It was a great point to make at a place like this.”

Tahira Dosani, a Brown graduate who lives in Washington, D.C., said she was impressed by the Aga Khan’s remarks about technology: “He said global connectivity doesn’t necessarily mean more connection. I think that was powerful.”

Apr 26,2013

Engagement of Prince Rahim to Ms Kendra Spears

Aiglemont, France, 26 April 2013 — Mawlana Hazar Imam today sent a message to the global Ismaili Jamat to announce the engagement of his eldest son, Prince Rahim, to Ms Kendra Spears of Seattle, Washington, the United States.

Hazar Imam said he was delighted to announce the engagement.

:: Additional photos

Nov 3,2012

London, 22 October 2012 – As part of the Synergos Institute’s University for a Night series, His Highness the Aga Khan was awarded the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award at a ceremony in London.

David Rockefeller, in a letter addressed to the Aga Khan which was read to the audience, described the reasons for awarding this honour: “Through the Aga Khan Development Network, you have leveraged the social conscience of Islam in ways that benefit people of all faiths, promoting tolerance, pluralism and broad-based development.”

In acknowledging the award, His Highness spoke about the importance of civil society in development. “As I have done my work over the past decades, I have concluded that one of the most important forces in development is civil society,” he explained. “If you think about the countries around the world which have had fragile governments but which have still made progress, there are umpteen examples of countries which have made progress because they have had strong civil society.”

The agencies of the AKDN, which work in 30 countries around the world, are private, international, non-denominational development organisations. They employ approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities is approximately US$ 600 million. The project companies of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development generate revenues of approximately US$ 2.0 billion annually (all surpluses are reinvested in further development activities). All agencies work to improve the welfare and prospects of people in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa, without regard to faith, origin or gender. Their projects encompass many of the determinants of the quality of life, including the natural and built environments in both urban and rural areas, food security, health, education, civil society, access to financial services and economic opportunity, as well as the cultural areas of traditional music, architecture and art. Some programmes, such as specific research, education and cultural programmes, span both the developed and developing worlds.

The Aga Khan went on to commend Synergos for its work, commenting that “civil society means mobilising all the forces that can be mobilised in support of human development, and that is why I am so happy and gratified by the prize that you have given me, because you are bringing these forces together in the most remarkable way”.

Synergos’ objective is to address global poverty and social injustice by supporting and connecting leaders so they can work in collaboration to change the systems that keep people in poverty. The University for a Night series brings together leaders from business, civil society and government to discuss innovative approaches to addressing some of the most pressing global problems. Previous recipients of the award have included former US President Bill Clinton, former South African President Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, Sir Richard Branson and others who have played a leadership role in global development.

As part of the event, Synergos Chair Peggy Dulaney hosted an on-stage conversation with the Aga Khan in which she posed questions to him to further elaborate on his development work. In responding to a question about the relationship between philanthropy and development, the Aga Khan spoke about the importance of impact investment: “I happen to believe that impact investment is one of the most important concepts that I can recollect in the last 50 years. And the reason is that it harnesses social ethic to economic purpose. And the harnessing of social ethic to economic purpose enables you to do things which you could never do otherwise because what you’re talking about is a double dividend. You’re talking about a reasonable dividend on the investment and you are talking about a reasonable dividend in social development. Both of those can be measured and therefore those who make an investment in the impact domain can know what they’re achieving with that impact investment.”