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

Featured Item  »»  Full Event Video: Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre, Toronto, Opening Ceremonies

On Friday, September 12, 2014, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, in the presence of the Aga Khan, performed the the Opening Ceremonies of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Like the Aga Khan’s address to the Canadian Parliament, we are sure this event will also go down as one of the signature events of this Imamat.

For the tens of thousands Ismailis in North America, and around the world, who were unable to watch the event live, it is our great pleasure to be able to bring you the full video of the 3 hour 20 minute webcast — unedited, from start to finish — together with a time index schedule to let you jump directly to any segment of interest.

Words cannot capture the dignity, the soul stirring, awe inspiring grandeur and majesty of the ceremonies, nor the stately presence of the buildings, and so we will not attempt to offer any. It was a proud moment not only to be an Ismaili, but to just be a member of the human race moved beyond words, witnessing an inspired vision, executed with flawless precision in every aspect, come to life.

 
Youtube version

 
Vimeo version if Youtube is not available to you (lower resolution)

 
Schedule (click on the time to play that segment)

NOTE: The time links below do not work on i-Pads.
NOTE: The time links below do not work for Vimeo, but the times are the same.

00:00:00 Introduction for the Opening Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre
00:04:45 Video about the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum
00:10:30 Live performance from the Museum and guest arrivals at the Ismaili Centre
00:23:00 The Aga Khan and his party arrive at the Ismaili Centre
00:26:03 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at the Ismaili Centre
00:29:40 The Aga Khan, his family and Prime Minister Harper enter the hall
00:30:48 Canadian National Anthem
00:33:04 Recitation from the Qur’an (2:255) followed by translations
00:38:25 The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, delivers his address; TEXT
00:46:37 His Highness the Aga Khan delivers his address; TEXT
01:07:47 Commemorative plaque unveiling for the Ismaili Centre
01:08:37 Conclusion of the the Opening Ceremony; Prime Minister Harper, the Aga Khan and his party depart for a private tour of the Centre
01:12:49 The tour party enters the jamatkhana prayer hall
01:17:23 Observing the live choir and photographic tour of the Ismaili Centre’s interior
01:23:50 Video about the other Ismaili Centres
01:35:37 Photographic tour of the Ismaili Centre’s interior continues over live choir
01:39:02 Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Salwa on the Ismaili Centre terrace
01:41:28 Prime Minister Harper, the Aga Khan and Prince Amyn on the terrace; Press photo shoot
01:47:41 The tour party leaves the Ismaili Centre for the Aga Khan Museum, via the Aga Khan Park
01:51:17 The tour party arrives at the Aga Khan Museum for the ribbon cutting ceremony
01:54:17 The tour party makes its way to the auditorium to live music in the courtyard
01:56:53 The tour party enters the auditorium for the Opening Ceremony; Canadian National Anthem
02:00:58 Introduction for the Opening Ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum
02:01:48 Recitation from the Qur’an (4:174-175) followed by translations
02:06:47 Prince Amyn delivers his address; TEXT
02:23:46 The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, delivers her speech; text not yet available
02:32:44 Commemorative plaque unveiling for the Aga Khan Museum
02:33:35 Conclusion of the the Opening Ceremony; Prime Minister Harper, the Aga Khan and his party depart for a private tour of the Museum to music in the courtyard
02:35:53 The tour party enters the Bellerive Room
02:41:25 The tour party enters and tours the Museum’s exhibition halls, proper
03:18:43 Memories from an historic day

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Featured Item  »»  Ismaili Centre Opening Ceremony (Toronto, Canada)

It is not so often that we have an opportunity of this sort — to come together in a beautiful setting, in a wonderful spirit of friendship, and to dedicate such a splendid architectural accomplishment….

When I mentioned that our planning for this complex began 18 years ago, some of you probably wondered how people sustained their enthusiasm through such a long process. Yes 18 years! My response is to say that throughout these 18 years, we have been inspired by a great sense of common purpose, as we have sought to create places and spaces of true enlightenment. And, in doing so, we have also been strengthened by a pronounced spirit of friendship. And what a joy it is to celebrate that spirit, at a time when so much of the world’s attention is focused on climates of belligerence.

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‘Spirit & Life’ Opening Ceremony – An Exhibition from the Aga Khan Museum Collection (London, United Kingdom)

This exhibition is designed to give us a glimpse into the future. What we see here today is the nucleus of the Islamic art collections of the future Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. This museum, which is being designed by the renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, is conceived as a primarily educational institution in the field of Islamic art and culture, a specific mandate that is not fulfilled so far by other North American museums. We hope and trust it will contribute to a deeper understanding among cultures — to the strengthening of true cultural pluralism — which is increasingly essential to peace, and to progress, in our world….

If I could express one hope for all of you, as you leave this place today, it is that you will appreciate even more deeply how much culture matters in Muslim societies, and how deeply culture is entwined for Muslims with matters of faith. This is why we call this exhibition: ‘Spirit and Life’.

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Government of Canada announcement to partner in the Global Centre of Pluralism (Ottawa, Canada)

Canada has for many years been a beacon to the rest of the world for its commitment to pluralism and for its support for the multicultural richness and diversity of its peoples. Canada has embraced pluralism as a foundation for strength and growth. Therefore, I am extremely pleased that the Government of Canada under Prime Minister Paul Martin’s leadership has joined us in this important global venture.

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Interview by Pierre Dumayet (Chantilly, France)

FRENCH VIDEO ONLY: We regret that neither a transcript nor translation of this French interview video is available in the archive. We would be very grateful if any of our French speaking visitors would be kind enough to transcribe and/or translate the 11 minute video at the link below. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

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Aiglon College Graduation Ceremony (Chesières, Switzerland)

As I look around me, my deep sense is that today the strongest human force, sadly, is fear…. At this time, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees believes that there are some 50 million people who are either refugees or internally displaced persons. Far more than ever before. Practically every one of them — women, men, children, the sick — have been touched by fear and many still live in fear. At no time in human history has a percentage of human population living in fear and who has been uprooted [been] as great as it is today. And this issue is affecting the whole of our world with all the consequences we see …

So you may be asking yourselves, if fear is omnipresent — as I believe it is, what does that mean about the world in which the graduands of l’Aiglon will enter? And you will be asking yourselves how, as nano-players on the global scene, you could cause positive change to happen for yourselves, your families, your peoples. My answer is: hope. Fortunately, just as fear can be infectious, so hope is infectious…. Governments and institutions must create an Enabling Environment in which hope can flourish.

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Closing Remarks, Ninth Seminar, ‘The Expanding Metropolis: Coping with the Urban Growth of Cairo’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Cairo, Egypt)

[In India] the track record of an urban housing finance institution has been so good that the creation of a specialised agency for the financing of rural housing is being envisaged. We all know the problems which Indian agriculture has had to face. If it is realistic to envisage institutional private sector financing for rural housing there, then three conclusions are obvious

Firstly, there is more wealth in agricultural communities than is often recognised, whether its source is easily identifiable or not. Secondly, if Indian agricultural areas appear able to justify a viable specialised housing finance agency, could the same not be true of Egypt? Thirdly, anything which is done to improve the quality of life in rural areas, such as the provision of housing, must contribute to stemming the flow of people from the countryside to the cities.

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Archon Award Ceremony of Sigma Theta Tau International (Copenhagen, Denmark)

More than twenty-five years ago, these were some of the central concerns that led to the establishment of the Aga Khan University in Karachi and its School of Nursing…. Given the state of health services in Pakistan at that time, I felt it particularly important to create an institution in the country that could offer education in the health professions at international standards. This would ensure that the teaching and research programmes would be of the highest quality, but would also be grounded in local needs and realities, and that, if properly funded and led, could make a distinctive contribution on a permanent basis. In addition, a successful national institution would have the potential to provide leadership directly and through its graduates that would be felt in the professions and also in society more generally.

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Address to the Dushanbe Fresh Water Forum (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)

I am struck how often, and in how many different discussions about water, people living in the communities scattered through the high mountains are seen as a problem…. Though essential, the technology is not the important message here. It is that with organisational support and technical inputs, mountain people can become part of the solution to effective watershed conservation and management, while also improving their own circumstances.

[M]ountain communities need support from society and government at the national level. For much of Central Asia, but also in rural areas in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, civil society organisations based on principles of broad participation, equity and transparency are still uncommon. Their development needs support and requires legitimacy in the eyes of the government for they are the most capable micro managers of micro water resources.

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ZDF (Enterprises) Interview (2nd) for the documentary ‘Islam and the West’, ‘Morgenland’ (‘Orient’) (Germany) ·· incomplete

[As] a Muslim we don’t make the divide between faith and life in the same way as parts of the Christian world do, not all of it but there are large parts of the Christian world which make that divide. We don’t make that divide. Islam doesn’t allow you to make that divide. You reflect your belief, your faith in the faith of Islam, not only by your attitude to the faith itself but to the society in which you live — to poverty, to the family, to ethics in your civil behaviour. It’s part of your everyday life. You live the faith. And I think that’s why many, many Muslims, not me but others, including myself, define the faith as, a way of life because it is a way of life. [Emphasis original]

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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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Pakistan TV Interview, Javed Jabber (Karachi, Pakistan)

[W]ould you care to identify one single area in which you think that certain countries need to undertake great effort which could act as a catalyst or a pivot to advance overall programmes?

Very good, a very astute question and a correct question. I think you should look at the Third World countries, and essentially I am talking about Asia and Africa…. [M]any of their economies are dominated by one or two major cash crops. It may be jute, it may be sisal, it may be tea, it may be coffee, and so long as there is no stabilising force, which enables these countries to manage their economies, without continually being subject to fluctuation over which they have not control, these countries simply are never going to be able to plan and develop their economies; and that, perhaps in my view is one of the most central issues that has got to be resolved and quickly.

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Elle Magazine Interview, Paul Giannoli, ‘Mystery of the Aga Khan’ (France)

[Google translation] [A] question I posed to a Christian philosopher: technology, according to you, it does not compete with God? With advances in science, people who were dying, they prolonged twenty years. Contraception prevents planned for unborn human beings come into the world. We transplant hearts, we add the kidneys, livers. Man competes with God?

No. There is no limit to the power of God. Even the successes of modern medicine are additional proofs of the unlimited power of Allah. It is He who wishes to give to mankind a chance to prolong their worldly life, in so far as it is not illusory. Landing on the moon shows less the power of man than the power of God. Allah has put in the universe much more than what humans have thought to see. It is for this reason existence is exciting and one should act fully, participating as much as possible in everything of life that represents dignity and eternal hope. (2)

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Closing Remarks, Sixth Seminar, ‘The Changing Rural Habitat’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Beijing, People’s Republic Of China)

Perhaps the first issue [about rural habitat highlighted by this seminar] is the absence of communication between those who live in the rural areas and those who work for its betterment. What I mean by communications is the ability of the rural population to express itself in a clear manner to the people who are planning the development of the rural areas, to participate fully in the processes which contribute to the development programme of the rural areas, and then having a chance to evaluate the response that these developments produce. I think this may well be due to the nature of rural society. It is more widely spread; it is less vocal in many cases, and it is more difficult for urban technocrats to penetrate the thought processes, the responses of rural society than if you are building for programmes in an urban development. I think it is also true that international planners and architects communicate more easily among themselves than they do with the urban population as a whole.

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Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Opening Ceremony (Ottawa, Canada)

One of the principal reasons, I believe, for the great rapport between the Ismaili and Canadian communities through the years is our shared commitment to a common ethical framework — and especially to the ideals of pluralism. By this I mean not only social pluralism, which embraces a diversity of ethnic and religious groups, but also pluralism in our thinking about government, and pluralism in our approach to other institutions. One of the reasons governments have failed in highly diverse settings around the world is that dogma has too often been enshrined at the price of more flexible, pluralistic approaches to political and economic challenges….

The spirit of pluralism, at its base, is a response to the realities of diversity — a way of reconciling difference on the one hand with cooperation and common purpose on the other. It is an attitude, a way of thinking, which regards our differences not as threats but as gifts — as occasions for learning, stretching, growing — and at the same time, as occasions for appreciating anew the beauties of one’s own identity.

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Jamati Institutional Leaders Dinner (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) ·· incomplete

And I am very excited by the prospects that I see ahead of our institutions in Africa and elsewhere, because I do genuinely feel convinced that the decades ahead can be very, very exciting for our Jamat world-wide if we are able to build in the various parts of the world where we are … continue to invest in intelligence, in knowledge, because that, after all, has been the sign of success throughout the history of the Ummah.

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Toronto Star Interview (2nd), Haroon Siddiqui, ‘Selling a Canadian idea to the world’ (Toronto, Canada) ·· incomplete

We have seen, in the last quarter of a century, many pluralistic nations pay a horrible price because they were unable to manage conflicts between different communities. (Canada, on the other hand) has a long and highly successful track record of pluralism. It is a sophisticated democracy where people of different backgrounds feel they have an equitable voice in the country and have achieved positions of real leadership.

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Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Madrasa Programme (Mombasa, Kenya)

From the seed that was planted here in the Coastal Region some 25 years ago — when Bi-Swafiya Said received her grant from the Aga Khan Foundation — the East African Madrasa Programme has grown to include 203 pre-schools, with nearly 800 teachers, reaching some 30,000 households and serving more than 54,000 children. This is truly an inspiring story.

It is also important to note some additional distinctions concerning this programme. One is the Programme’s pluralistic, inclusive approach — embracing Muslim and non-Muslim children alike — and helping all of them to learn important lessons about diversity. Indeed, it is good to see that parents of different faiths are represented on the School Management Committees. It is striking that modern neuro-sciences have demonstrated that long before the age of 6, children are aware of the different cultural backgrounds amongst each other in their classes. It is thus before that age that pluralism can be instilled as a life value.

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CBC Interview (4th), One-on-One (2nd) with Peter Mansbridge (Toronto, Canada)

What are the continuing consequences of the situation in Iraq?

Well I think one of them obviously is crisis between the Shia and Sunni communities. I think that crisis is now extending throughout the region, and I mentioned today [in my speech to Parliament], that it’s actually active in nine countries. I mean, if you make a parallel with the Christian world, what would have been the Christian world’s reaction if the Irish crisis had been active in nine countries. (Pause) It would have been a very, very serious issue. That’s what we’re facing today. That crisis is in nine countries and it is likely to expand further. (Emphasis original)

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Aga Khan School Opening Ceremony (Osh, Kyrgyzstan)

I am sure that all of you here today will agree that we live in a time of rapid change — change that is often not predictable, and not always positive. The best way to manage change, whether positive or negative, is to anticipate it and prepare for it…. I have come to the conclusion that there is no greater form of preparation for change than education. I also think that there is no better investment that the individual, parents, and the nation can make than an investment in education of the highest possible quality….

There are two more dimensions of education for the modern world about which I would like to make a few remarks. The first relates to inquisitiveness, critical thinking, and problem solving. What students know is no longer the most important measure of the quality of education. The true test is the ability to engage with what they do not know, and to work out a solution. The second dimension involves the ability to reach conclusions that constitutes the basis for informed judgements. The ability to make judgements that are grounded in solid information, and employ careful analysis should be one of the most important goals for any educational endeavour. As students develop this capacity, they can begin to grapple with the most important and difficult step: to learn to place such judgements in an ethical framework. Therein lies the formation of the kind of social consciousness that our world so desperately needs.

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‘Where Hope Takes Root – Democracy and Pluralism in an Interdependent World’: Book of His Highness the Aga Khan’s speeches and interviews (Canada)

NanoWisdoms’ Introduction

Published in 2008, Where Hope Takes Root is a collection of 13 of His Highness the Aga Khan’s principal speeches, made between 2002 and 2006 (links below), along with his important 2006 interview with the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge. Focused on the theme “democracy and pluralism in an interdependent world,” the book — which deserves to be read repeatedly — could arguably be characterised as “The Essential Aga Khan.” The NanoWisdoms Archive is pleased to make this seminal collection available for those who have not yet had the opportunity to read it.

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Jeune Afrique Interview (2nd), Coumba Diop, ‘Ethics of Islam guides all my work’ (Mali or Côte d’Ivoire)

[Google translation] If you were to go on a desert island, what three things would you take?

[Google translation] [Laughs.] Oh my! I do not know what to say! I wish I could feed myself, dress and live as long as possible! And I’ll take what practice my faith.

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