HH Aga Khan is ceremoniously addressed as, “Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan” by the Ismaili Muslims around the world. The Imamat was passed on to him by his Grandfather Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III on July 11, 1957. HH Aga Khan is the 49th Imam of the religious office of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim Community, also known as Ismaili Muslims. Per the Ismaili Muslim tradition, HH Aga Khan, is a direct lineal descendant of Prophet (pbuh) through Hazrat Ali (RA) and Hazrat Fatima (RA).
As a Muslim Pluralist myself, I have come to admire HH Aga Khan for reviving a few of the core values of Islam; Pluralism, and the second most important value called — Huqooqul Ibad — the obligatory duties to fellow beings.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Hazrat Ali (ra) had continuously advocated living in moderation; it’s a mid path between the worldly and spiritual needs. The Aga Khan has fine tuned that balance between material and spiritual life.
Aga Khan on Shia Ismaili Tradition
He performs his religious duties by interpreting Qur’an to his 15 million plus followers spread out across the world, fulfilling his role as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community.
In his speech to the Parliament of Canada on February 27, 2014, he explains the Shia-Sunni and Ismaili tradition, “The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet. But let me clarify something more about the history of that role, in both the Sunni and Shia interpretations of the Muslim faith. The Sunni position is that the Prophet nominated no successor, and that spiritual-moral authority belongs to those who are learned in matters of religious law. As a result, there are many Sunni imams in a given time and place. But others believed that the Prophet had designated his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. From that early division, a host of further distinctions grew up — but the question of rightful leadership remains central. In time, the Shia were also sub-divided over this question, so that today the Ismailis are the only Shia community who, throughout history, have been led by a living, hereditary Imam in direct descent from the Prophet. ”
On the other hand he is guiding the community to prosperity and living a responsible life in the societies they live.
He founded the Aga Khan Development Network that is committed to serving the humanity without regard to faith, origin or gender. I believe AKDN is one of the largest Non Governmental bodies serving humanity to learn to stand on their own feet.
Every child, teen and an adult has someone he or she looks up to, and wants to-be-like that person and eventually becomes one. Good role models are a key to the success of a civil society, and indeed, HH Aga Khan is a great role model for Muslims to look up to.
In gratitude for his continued guidance, the Ismaili Muslims celebrate this week honoring him and reaffirming his leadership with a renewed commitment to serving the humanity.
Islam is about restoring and sustaining the harmony within an individual and with what surrounds him; life and environment. From the very first sentence of the first chapter, and the last chapter and throughout Qur’an, God is “Sustainer of all the worlds” (1:2) and “Cherisher of Mankind” (114:1) — The message is universal and inclusive of humanity and not a particular group of people.
At present, he is one of the few Muslims in the world who has truly understood the pluralistic message of Quran. He firmly believes in pluralism and has opened an institution to propagate those ideals. Please visit the Global Center for Pluralism in Canada. At the Foundation for Pluralism, we have crystallized the definition of pluralism as “Respecting the otherness of others” based on many verses from Qur’an, but particularly verse 109:6 translation by Yusuf Ali, “To you be your Way, and to me mine.”
Aga Khan delivered the following statement at the Inauguration Ceremony of Aga Khan University in Karachi on November 11, 1985, “The divine intellect Aql-i Kull, both transcends and informs the human intellect. It is this intellect which enables man to strive towards two aims dedicated by the Faith: that he should reflect upon the environment Allah has given and that he should know himself. It is the light of intellect which distinguishes the complete human being from the human animal and developing that intellect requires free enquiry. The man of Faith who fails to pursue intellectual search is likely to have only a limited comprehension of Allah’s creation. Indeed, it is man’s intellect that enables him to expand his vision of that creation.”
Caring for Neighbors
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said the best among you is the one who sees to it that his neighbor is fed and cared for. Imam Hazrat Ali (ra), the 4th rightly guided Caliph after Prophet Muhammad in providing the leadership to the Muslim community says, “The best man is he who is most serviceable to fellow humans.” There are over 18 verses in Qur’an where God consistently talks about taking care of fellow humans. Indeed the Prophet (pbuh) expressed it in so many different ways to high light the duty to fellow beings. He he said, that an irreligious guy who takes care of his neighbor earns God’s grace over a guy who is relentlessly praying.
Ismaili Muslims participate and contribute in building relationships
Indeed, the beneficence of Aga Khan’s Pluralism discourse can be witnessed everywhere in the world including Dallas, Texas.
Arman Rupani and his father Mr. Amir Ali Rupani, a respected philanthropist of Dallas, set in motion a historic event; Iftar Dinner with Hon. Mayor Mike Rawlings of City of Dallas. This is the first public Iftar event in Dallas area hosted by the City with it’s Muslim residents.
Thanks to Arman Rupani, Amir Ali Rupani and Akram Syed for co-hosting the event, and building relationships between the Mayor’s office and the Muslims of Dallas.
The honored guests included; Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Monica R. Alonzo of Dallas, former Mayor Dr. Arjumad Hashmi of Paris, Texas, Council Member Dr. Shahid Shafi of South Lake and most of the Imams of Shia and Sunni traditions, and some of the most active Muslims of Dallas Fort Worth.
Purpose of Religion
The purpose of every religion and the work of every prophet, messenger or peacemaker was to build cohesive societies, where no human had to live in apprehension or fear of the other. Indeed the ultimate goal of Islam as I understand is to bring harmony and peace to the societies achieved by knowing each other and building relationships.
Indeed God has created us into different tribes, communities and nations (Quran 49:13). It was indeed his choice to create each one of us to be unique with our own thumbprint, eye print, DNA, color and taste buds. Yet, the whole creation was put together in perfect balance and harmony (Q55:7); Planets and plants were programmed to operate with precision (Q55:5) year after year, and humans were given the free will with a responsibility to maintain that balance for their own good or perish like the earlier species through climate changes or conflicts.
God knew such diversity is bound to create conflict and mess up the delicate balance, so he encourages us in the same verse 49:13, that the best among you are the ones who know each other. Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the God given uniqueness of each one of us, and with that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
One shining example that stands out is His Highness Aga Khan, who has struck a perfect balance between the life here, and life hereafter.
One shining example that stands out is His Highness Aga Khan, who has struck a perfect balance between the life here, and life hereafter.We wish a very happy Imamat day and Khushali to the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and blessing of long life to the Hazar Imam HH Karim Aga Khan. Amen!
This writer was a former commissioner at City of Carrollton.
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KARACHI: The CSR Brands of the Year Award 2013 has been won by the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi for its indigenously designed solar shuttle. In a statement issued here on Sunday, the Brands Foundation presents the awards, which each year shortlists over 1,000 popular and trusted brands in Pakistan from which a winner is selected for each category. This is the first time that AKUH has won this CSR award. The solar vehicle is part of the University Hospital’s shuttle service fleet facilitating the movement of visitors and patients between the different service buildings. The 6-days-a-week service has been operational since late 2011, with the solar vehicle added to the fleet last year.
The idea of using a solar-powered vehicle was first tabled in 2012. “We had already designed and built golf-cart type shuttles using our own design. We now needed transport vehicles that were eco-friendly and reduced the use of fossil fuels,” recalls Mehdi Bawa, manager of AKUH’s transport department.
A solar-cum-electric shuttle, one-of-its-kind in Pakistan, was developed with the assistance of a local firm, Water Security Company Pvt. Ltd., and commissioned in November 2013. A replica of the five petrol shuttles already plying across the campus, it saves the University Hospital 3,000 litres of petrol a year. If each litre of gas produces 2.5 kg of CO2, AKUH saves 7,500 kg of CO2 or 7.1 tonnes of green house gas emissions annually. The shuttle is one more step towards reducing the impact of campus operations – and part of a commitment by the University Hospital and the Aga Khan University to operate in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner. As part of its ‘green’ plan, AKU has installed a highly sophisticated incinerator to safely dispose of its infectious waste while meeting European Union clean air emission standards; by-product heat from the incinerator is used to meet almost 50 per cent of the campus’ hot water needs. and LED street lights which utilize only two to eight watts of electricity per light and last 10 times longer than regular lighting, have been installed across the site.
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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.”More Related Information