Below the featured items is a random selection of His Highness the Aga Khan's speeches & interviews.

Featured Item  »»  Signing Ceremony for the agreement between the Republic of Portugal and Ismaili Imamat to establish the Global Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal (Lisbon, Portugal) ·· incomplete

[This] a uniquely important occasion, where we will have for the first time in our history the opportunity to work with a partner with whom we share so many values, and so many hopes, and so many wishes.

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Featured Item  »»  FULL EVENT VIDEO: The Global Centre for Pluralism’s Fourth Annual Lecture (Toronto, Canada)

On Thursday, May 28, 2015, at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, the Global Centre for Pluralism held its fourth annual lecture. This year’s lecturer was The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada. In her outstanding lecture, the Chief Justice called for diverse, multicultural societies to choose tolerance over intolerance, while also pointing out that tolerance must have limits. We highly recommend her speech which is also available in print at pluralism.ca, here.

That pluralism and tolerance have limits is a sentiment also shared by the Aga Khan and his extensive remarks in respect of this and cosmopolitan ethics were analyzed, in depth, in the recent article “Beyond Relativism: The Aga Khan on Personal Search, Universal Ethics and Pluralism” published on ismailignosis.com, here.

For the tens of thousands Ismailis in North America, and around the world, who were unable to watch the live webcast, it is our great pleasure to be able to bring you the Globe and Mail video of the webcast — unedited, from start to finish.

Click here to read His Highness the Aga Khan’s speech.

NOTE: The advertisements that appear over the video are not in our control but under the Globe and Mail’s, as they include advertisements with their videos.

Featured Item  »»  Remarks introducing The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, The Global Centre for Pluralism’s Fourth Annual Lecturer (Toronto, Canada)

In her LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture in Toronto, in 2003, the Chief Justice said and I quote, “One problem, more than any other, dominates human history — the problem of how we deal with those who are different than us.” Those words have sharp, continuing relevance as we move further into the 21st century. Whether the challenge involves new waves of migrants moving into European societies, or political participation for the indigenous peoples of Latin America, or working towards democratic change in the Middle East and North Africa, there is a profound need to focus on the values and hopes that unite all human beings.

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Featured Item  »»  FULL EVENT VIDEO: Aga Khan Park Opening Ceremony (Toronto, Canada)

On Monday, May 25, 2015, in Toronto, Canada, the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, and His Highness the Aga Khan presided over the Opening Ceremony of the Aga Khan Park, adjacent to the Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre.

For the tens of thousands Ismailis in North America, and around the world, who were unable to watch the live webcast, it is our great pleasure to be able to bring you the AKDN video of the webcast — unedited, from start to finish.

Click here to read His Highness the Aga Khan’s speech.

Featured Item  »»  Province of Ontario and Ismaili Imamat Agreement of Cooperation Signing Ceremony (Toronto, Canada)

Our history, our interpretation of our faith, is anchored in the intellect and we rejoice in investing in the human intellect. It’s part of the ethics of what we believe in and it’s part of what we believe distinguishes us, obviously, from the environment in which we live. So the agreement that we have is giving us new opportunities to widen our exposure to education in the industrialised world, but to widen that education within a context where our values are the same. And that it is very important, because it’s clear with a global community — such as the Ismaili community — we need to invest in global values, in values which can be applied to any society, at any time in any part of the world. [Emphasis original.]

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Featured Item  »»  Aga Khan Park Opening Ceremony (Toronto, Canada)

The Park and its Gardens can serve as a symbol of “connection” in other ways as well. Among them are rich connections across time linking us to the past. The Garden has for many centuries served as a central element in Muslim culture. The Holy Qur’an, itself, portrays the Garden as a central symbol of a spiritual ideal — a place where human creativity and Divine majesty are fused, where the ingenuity of humanity and the beauty of nature are productively connected. Gardens are a place where the ephemeral meets the eternal, and where the eternal meets the hand of man.

The tradition of Islamic Gardens places an emphasis on human stewardship, our responsibility to nature and to protect the natural world. We see that principle expressed in the disciplined use of geometric form — framing the power and mystery of nature. And, of course, the Garden of ancient tradition, like the Garden here today, is a place where — whatever difficult moments may come our way — we can always find, in the flow of refreshing water, a reminder of Divine blessing.

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Featured Item  »»  Ismaili scholars at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) and elsewhere cite NanoWisdoms in published works

Four years ago, today, the NanoWisdoms Archive of Imamat Speeches, Interviews and Writings was given special permission by Aiglemont to publish His Highness the Aga Khan’s speeches. One key objective and reason for establishing the Archive was to create a comprehensive and authoritative, professional reference resource of the Aga Khan’s wisdom for scholars. It is, therefore, with great satisfaction and pride that we can announce today that the Archive has started to achieve this objective and is now being cited as a source in academic papers and books published by respected Ismaili scholars — including those from the Institute of Ismaili Studies, Carleton University and Sacred Web. While at Harvard University, the Archive was even listed as a resource for a graduate level course on Ismailism.

Below we provide a summary of some of these citations as well as the scholars’ comments about the NanoWisdoms Archive, which they describe as “indispensable,” “invaluable,” an “absolute necessity,” “fantastic,” “unique,” “professional” and “the best resource to conduct research into the speeches, interviews and writings” of the Aga Khans.

These recognitions and accolades, by the Ismaili academic community, are tangible demonstrations of their confidence in the Archive, confirming it as an invaluable and unique resource which all — especially Ismailis — may rely on with confidence. The recognitions are also an indisputable validation of the importance of the project for the community and why we view them as our most important achievement to date.

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Urban Land Institute’s Annual Conference Leadership Dinner (Paris, France)

For my comments this evening it was suggested that I share some of the lessons the Aga Khan Development Network has learned from its 50 and more years of work, essentially in the developing countries of East and West Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East. And it seemed that one of the subjects that I might discuss with you this evening, and which bridges our interests of today and perhaps our destinies for tomorrow, is the subject of impact investing.

As you know, a wide spectrum of investors has been increasingly involved in “impact investing,” using a diverse array of assets, employing highly disciplined due diligence and accounting analyses, and pursuing a balanced mix of financial, social, economic and environmental goals. It has been exciting to see the volume of such investments growing substantially in recent years, with growth expected to reach around 500 billion U.S. dollars in the next ten years.

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Vist to Kazakhstan; ‘State Award for Peace and Progress’ Presentation Ceremony (Astana, Kazakhstan)

Kazakhstan has the potential to guarantee stability across the Central Asian region. By carefully positioning and investing its human and material resources, the country can help assure both social harmony and economic prosperity in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions…. I firmly believe that peace will be possible only when the pluralistic nature of human society is recognised, seen as a source of strength rather than weakness, and used as a basis for the formulation of policies and structures at all levels of governance.

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Closing Remarks, Third Seminar, ‘Housing Process and Physical Form’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Jakarta, Indonesia)

A major achievement of our seminar has been to highlight how very little is known of what is or might be appropriate housing for the Islamic world, and therefore appropriate for Muslims rather than for other peoples and cultures In talking about Islamic housing, we are not talking about housing for Muslims exclusively. We are talking about housing which reflects the culture of the majority of the people who live in any given country, and which therefore has an Islamic population but is in no way exclusively Muslim.

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Address to the International Colloquium ‘Word of God, Art of Man: The Qur’an and its Creative Expressions’ organised by The Institute of Ismaili Studies (London, United Kingdom)

This programme is also an opportunity for achieving insights into how the discourse of the Qur’an-e-Sharif, rich in parable and allegory, metaphor and symbol, has been an inexhaustible well-spring of inspiration, lending itself to a wide spectrum of interpretations. This freedom of interpretation is a generosity which the Qur’an confers upon all believers, uniting them in the conviction that All-Merciful Allah will forgive them if they err in their sincere attempts to understand His word. Happily, as a result, the Holy Book continues to guide and illuminate the thought and conduct of Muslims belonging to different communities of interpretation and spiritual affiliation, from century to century, in diverse cultural environments….

It is my sincere hope that this colloquium will bring additional insights to an understanding of the Holy Qur’an as a message that encompasses the entirety of human existence and effort. It is concerned with the salvation of the soul, but commensurately also with the ethical imperatives which sustain an equitable social order. The Qur’an’s is an inclusive vision of society that gives primacy to nobility of conduct. It speaks of differences of language and colour as a Divine sign of mercy and a portent for people of knowledge to reflect upon.

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Acceptance Address – Cartier Racing Awards’ Horse of the Year for Zarkava (London, United Kingdom) ·· incomplete

Sometimes we are associated with fast ladies and this is a case when I am very happy to be associated with a fast lady! …

I want to say that, as a traditional breeder, Zarkava is probably the greatest reward that any breeder could ever have. If you are in this industry and you like breeding and not only racing this is the greatest, greatest reward that any owner could have because whether we admit it or not — and men can be kind of macho — we depend on the ladies in this game. They are the ones who produce the winners. And some of them we try to make faster than others.

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Jamati Institutional Leaders Dinner (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) ·· incomplete

I think that there probably isn’t an area of human endeavour in which we do not have today a Murid who is exceptional in his or her own field.

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Aga Khan Development Network and European Commission (EU) ‘Joint Declaration’ Signing Ceremony (Brussels, Belgium)

Our Joint Declaration represents a commitment to go beyond our common concerns about poverty and the need to improve living conditions in the developing world. We now look to enhancing our two-decade long partnership to contribute towards creating stability, mitigating conflict, fostering greater social inclusion and enabling equitable and sustainable human development.

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Dinner hosted by the Governor and First Lady of Texas (Austin, Texas, USA)

The American ethic and ideal — the Texan ethic and ideal — has always been one of openness to others and openness to the future. It is an ethic of opportunity, which the Ismaili Community deeply shares. This commitment to opportunity is exemplified in the vitality of your diverse multi-ethnic society. It is rooted in a deep respect for the individual human being independent of one’s background or origins.

The Governor has cited words from the Qur’an about the affinity of our religious commitments. The teachings of the Qur’an, like those of the Bible, also resonate with the words that rang out from Philadelphia in 1776: affirming that “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Those words express our common ideal….

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Introduction to ‘Splendori a Corte (Splendours at Court)’ (Parma, Italy)

[Google translation] Rarely, if ever, as in this moment, we have witnessed so many misconceptions and misunderstandings between our two companies. My deepest hope is that events of this magnitude encourage and enhance the interest and appreciation of the heritage of civilization that we share and increase knowledge and respect between peoples and cultures.

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NBC Interview, Richard Engel, ‘A Hollywood stepson and a Muslim leader’ (USA)

I certainly think the invasion of Iraq was a serious mistake. We had crisis situations before that. We had them in Kashmir. We had them in the Middle East. If you look at the origins of those crises, they were political not religious. At the moment, it’s the horrible conflicts which are dominating the image of the Islamic world and I can say without one iota of fear that is totally wrong, totally wrong. You had wars in the Christian world, you had wars in the Jewish world. But you don’t define them in theological terms anymore, except Northern Ireland.

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Paris Match Interview (2nd), Caroline Pigozzi (Paris, France)

[Translation] Who in your mind are the strongmen of the Muslim world of tomorrow?

First of all, those who represent serious politics and economic courage among whom I name the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the King Hussein of Jordan, the King Hassan of Morocco, or even the President Suharto of Indonesia, the Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamed of Malaysia or President Akaev of Kyrgyzstan.

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Public Address (Djenne, Mali) ·· incomplete

Today, we face a delicate situation in which all Muslims of peace need to unite to present to the world a face of an Islam of peace, unity, intelligence and conviction…. As a Muslim, I see the great mosques of the Ummah as symbols of the past but also as hopes for the future. We should not forget the great periods of Muslim history have always been marked by intelligence, by competence and by knowledge — of science, of astronomy — and of everything that was important, at the time, for the quality of life of men and women of the Ummah. We should draw great learning from the past and project it towards the future.

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CNN Interview, John Defterios, ‘The Healthy Speed of Change’ (Doha, Qatar) ·· incomplete

The general goal of the Aga Khan Development Network, as system of agencies, is to assist in the construction of civil society. Over the past 50 years we have come to the conclusion that the strength and quality of civil society is the greatest guarantor of processes of positive change….

I think the issue is not only the differences in quality of life — there are many other criteria and one of the ones we’re most exposed to, as a network of institutions, is what is healthy speed of change? Because you can move to fast. It’s not only addressing a form of paralysis of development and extricating yourself from that frozen situation, it’s also that societies just don’t change that quickly and if you force them to change quickly, you’re going to run into another set of problems.

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Address to the Evora University Symposium, ‘Cosmopolitan Society, Human Safety and Rights in Plural and Peaceful Societies’ (Evora, Portugal + [Canada])

A deepening sense of spiritual commitment, and the ethical framework that goes with it, will be a central requirement if we are to find our way through the minefields and the quick sands of modern life. A strengthening of religious institutions should be a vital part of this process. To be sure, freedom of religion is a critical value in a pluralistic society. But if freedom of religion deteriorates into freedom from religion, then societies will find themselves lost in a bleak and unpromising landscape with no compass, no roadmap and no sense of ultimate direction.

What I am calling for, in sum, is an ethical sensibility which can be shared across denominational lines and which can foster a universal moral outlook.

In conclusion, then, I would ask you think with me about these three requirements: a new emphasis on civil institutions, a more rigorous concern for educational excellence, and a renewed commitment to ethical standards. For these are all ways in which we can encourage a climate of positive pluralism in our world and thus help meet the current crisis of democracy.

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Restored Polana Serena Hotel Opening Ceremony (Maputo, Mozambique)

There is one other larger context I would like to mention today — the story of the Serena Hotel Group as a whole. Stretching back now over nearly four decades the Serena Group has contributed significantly to the economic progress of the places where it operates. And we intend that this same thing will happen in this country.

To begin with, attracting visitors to this country — business leaders and leisure travellers alike, one-time visitors and repeat customers — will itself produce foreign exchange at the time of such visits as well as later foreign investment, often as a result of those stays. And in both cases, there will be important multiplier effects for other enterprises, as well as for government revenues.

As the Serena Group has learned in so many other places, world-class travel facilities can be crucial components of what we call an “enabling environment” — a setting in which additional development initiatives can take root and thrive.

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Visit to Madagascar (Antananarivo, Madagascar)

A fresh approach to ethics in public life and in the private sector, an improved recognition of the inherent pluralism of contemporary societies, and increased opportunity to build high competence in the sectors of greatest need, are features of the new horizons that I see in Africa today.

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Tem Bridge Opening Ceremony (Tem, Tajikistan; Demogan, Afghanistan) ·· incomplete

Bridging the Pyanj River today means creating a corridor of hope and opportunity for this entire region. By facilitating the flow of goods, services, knowledge and technology in both directions, this bridge will allow communities on either side of the frontier, as well as neighbouring countries, to gain from one another and to contribute to one another’s welfare.

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Acceptance Address – Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy (Edinburgh, Scotland)

The achievements of the AKDN would not be possible without the tireless contributions of the global community of Ismailis that I lead, residing in Central and Southern Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Our volunteers and contributors also include many thousands of others from multiple cultures and faiths around the world. They are united with us in our mission to help build capacity and dignity for individuals, to enable them to take control of their own development.

These volunteers include those who contribute to the governance of the 200 entities of the AKDN in more than 30 countries, many others who support co-operatives, craft guilds, village organisations and women’s groups, and still others who work closely with the vast array of grassroots civil society organisations that form the bedrock of our activities.

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Association of American Universities Centenary Celebration, ‘Making a Difference: Reflections on Shared Problems, Shared Opportunities and Shared Responsibilities in International Higher Education’ (Washington D.C., USA)

But quality is not enough to justify the support of donors, society and the authorities in a developing country; a university’s offerings must also be relevant. Following a study carried out with the assistance of Harvard, AKU’s Board decided to focus its initial efforts on addressing the very poor quality of social services in Pakistan and much of the developing world. Today, the Faculty of Health Sciences, including Nursing, and the Institute for Educational Development, are all having an impact beyond the training of students at high levels in their respective fields….

[O]ver the last fifteen years Pakistan’s professional licensing body has recommended that all medical colleges in Pakistan adopt AKU’s model of community based medical education. Similarly, the Pakistan Nursing Council has adopted AKU’s nursing curriculum. Research has also concentrated on those themes that are relevant and have outcomes that impact society. With respect to the university’s Institute for Educational Development, more than half of all course participants come from government institutions. Here the Institute’s impact is not only visible in the improvements in classrooms and management of government schools, but also in government’s major policy-making fora in which the Institute is invited to participate on a regular basis.

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Remarks introducing Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva, The Global Centre for Pluralism’s Inaugural Lecturer (Ottawa, Canada)

In the course of my work over the past half-century, I have become convinced that finding ways for diverse societies to live peacefully together is one of the principal challenges of the contemporary world. It has led me to the conclusion that pluralism as an ethic of respect for diversity is an essential building block of successful and prosperous societies.

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