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

Featured Item  »»  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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Featured Item  »»  le Parisien Interview, Gilles Maarek & Gaetane Morin, ‘Aga Khan, l’imam philanthrope’ (Chantilly, France)

[Google translation] How do you perceive the rising tensions around Islam?

This is a concern for the whole world, not only for the Muslim world. The vast majority of these conflicts is not the result of theological problems, but political. Sometimes there instrumentalization of religion for political purposes. The answer is first constitutional. A quarter of the Member States of the United Nations are now reviewing their constitution.We must find a balance between secularism and theocracy, and this is a bigger problem for developing countries for the West. Today, the most thoughtful and the most successful in the Muslim world’s most advanced Constitution, is the Tunisian Constitution.

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Featured Item  »»  Acceptance Address – North-South Prize Award (Lisbon, Portugal)

As I observe the world, I am struck by the insufficiency of well-informed debate, of richer dialogue, of deeper education in our quest to avoid human conflict. That insufficiency often plagues relations between the North and the South and increasingly between the North and the Islamic world. Some have called this a clash of civilisations. I think it is, essentially, a clash of ignorances. What it means, in any case, is that institutions such as the North-South Centre have never been more important….

It is ironic that a sense of intensified conflict comes at a time of unprecedented breakthroughs in communication technology. At the very time that we talk more and more about global convergence, we also seem to experience more and more social divergence. The lesson it seems to me is that technologies alone will not save us — the critical variable will always be and will always lie in the disposition of human hearts and minds.

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Featured Item  »»  A 57 year timeline mural of world-wide honours arising from the Aga Khan’s steadfast commitment to the ethics of Islam

In anticipation of this week’s award ceremony for the Council of Europe’s 2013 North-South Prize conferred on His Highness the Aga Khan, the NanoWisdoms Archive, in conjunction with Azeem Maherali, is pleased to publish an update to its acclaimed, mural-sized timeline of the awards and honours the Aga Khan has garnered since becoming Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims 57 years ago, in 1957.

In his 2005 Jeune Afrique interview the Aga Khan made, what is perhaps, one of his most significant statements. He said, “the ethics of Islam guide all my activity.” The depth of these few words are the foundation upon which all the awards have been accorded. In essence, the awards represent the world’s enthusiastic endorsement of the ethics and principles of Islam as interpreted and practiced without compromise by the Aga Khan.

Click here to view or download the NanoWisdoms Graphic timeline of awards and honours accorded to His Highness the Aga Khan.

Khaleej Times Interview, Maruf Khwaja, ‘Aga Khan stresses “investment in people”‘ (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

On the whole, though the Ismaili community wherever it exists is well tolerated by the majority community. Is it because a low profile is deliberately maintained? Or that it does proselytise [sic]?

I think there may be a number of reasons for that. First of all, we don’t seek to proselytise. We don’t seek to tell others that what they practise is wrong or right. There is another aspect which is that whereas these men and women are loyal to their country, they have a faith which is guided by Iman [sic? Imam?]. I don’t think that they have, to my knowledge, ever acted as a monolithic political pressure group. Every individual is free to choose his political outlook, his convictions. The fact that we have consistently remained outside or independent of political pressure situations, that also has meant something that has been desirable. Perhaps the issue that you mentioned at the beginning of our discussion — the fact that we now are more outward than we’ve ever been. Its meant that a lot of our institutions are better understood and hopefully better appreciated. In recent years, there has been a tendency I am very thankful for, of countries welcoming our people and our institutions.

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Heart and Cancer Centre Opening Ceremony, Aga Khan University Hospital (Nairobi, Kenya)

Today’s inauguration of the Heart and Cancer Centre follows in this long tradition — and points the way to broader, future horizons. We are planning for the day when this Faculty will include undergraduate education in medicine, nursing and allied health professions, as well as post-graduate nursing and medical studies — and a 600-bed hospital. We plan to award bachelors and masters degrees in medicine, surgery and nursing, and, in due course, to offer Ph. D. degrees as well….

For all of us, the medical frontier represents a compelling priority. A recent study by the International Finance Corporation, working with McKinsey & Company, describes what they call a “global travesty”: the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa — with 11 percent of the world’s population — bears 24 percent of the global burden of disease. And yet Sub-Saharan Africa presently accounts for only one percent of global health expenditures. A “global travesty” indeed! …

Let us put behind us the day when young Africans thought they had to go to other parts of the world for quality medical education … Similarly, let the day also pass when African patients think they must go to other parts of the world to find quality medical care.

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Ismaili Centre Foundation Stone Ceremony (London, United Kingdom)

The Ismaili Centre being designed for a Muslim Community must reflect, even if only discreetly, an Islamic mood whilst being sympathetic to the character of its surroundings….

It is my conviction that the building of this Centre is symbolic of a growing understanding of Islam. For some centuries past, the Muslim world has lived in shadow as far as the West was concerned. Muslim civilisation and society were poorly understood, or not understood at all. Apart from a few exceptional and dedicated men, there was no communication and almost no desire to be informed. Now we see that conditions have changed. This building and the prominence of the place it has been given indicate the seriousness and the respect the West is beginning to accord Muslim civilisation of which the Ismaili Community, though relatively small, is fully representative. May this understanding so important for the future of the world, progress and flourish.

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Address to the National Building Museum’s Scully Seminar/Symposium (Washington D.C., USA)

I profoundly believed that architecture is not just about building; it is a means of improving people’s quality of life…. I am pleased that 28 years later, we have had some success in achieving our original goals [of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture]. We are gratified that so many others now are engaged in the cause. We have created a momentum that has become a self-sustaining and unstoppable force for change in the human habitat of the Muslim world. And I am most pleased the principles we have established are having an impact in much of the developed world as well.

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Aga Khan Development Network and Government of Syria ‘Framework Development Agreement’ Signing Ceremony (Damascus, Syria)

Underlining the long-term nature of the commitment represented by this agreement, the Aga Khan referred to the beginning of a “partnership for development into the future not constrained by time.” “We look forward to this collaboration,” he said, “so that we can prioritise the greatest necessities where you feel strategies of partnership are most urgent.”

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Acceptance Remarks – 2011 University of California San Francisco Medal (San Francisco, USA)

[I]n much of the world where we work, our problem is volatility — volatility in economics, in governments and so on and so forth. I think what we’ve learned is that the best answer to this volatility, in the countries where we are, is civil society and very often civil society is not an expression everyone is comfortable with. But I’ll try synthesise it by saying it is really the sum of human endeavour in structured, non-governmental organisations, that aim to impact positively all the key forces which condition people’s quality of life…. Now in developing civil society we are not trying to bring mediocrity to the Developing World. We’re trying to do exactly what UCSF is doing, which is to bring quality and excellence.

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Ismaili Centre Opening Ceremony (Houston, Texas, USA)

Islam does not deal in dichotomies but in all encompassing unity. Spirit and body are one, man and nature are one. What is more, man is answerable to God for what man has created. Since all that we see and do resonates on the faith, the aesthetics of the environments we build and the quality of the interactions that take place within them reverberate on our spiritual lives. As the leader of a Muslim community, and particularly one that now resides in twenty-five countries on four continents, the physical representation of Islamic values is particularly important to me. It should reflect who we are in terms of our beliefs, our cultural heritage and our relation to the needs and contexts in which we live in today’s world.

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UK Press Interview, ‘Aga Khan IV and the London Newspapermen on television: 115 Questions answered with artistry and insight’ (London, United Kingdom)

Tell us how this money is collected? I mean is it a system of taxation or is it really entirely voluntary?

No — it is entirely voluntary and the Imam uses the money either to grant scholarships to students, to grant capital to a school or a hospital. We have got on hospital in Nairobi at the moment which will have cost about 400,000 pounds and my grandfather gave a very large sum to that hospital.

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Public Address (Al Khwabi, Syria)

It is thus clearly evident that peace in the decades ahead can only be achieved when the pluralist nature of human society is understood, valued and built upon to construct a better future. In Islam, the pluralism of human society is well recognised, and the ethics of its multiple interpretations require that this diversity be accorded respect. The shahada — La-illaha-Illallah-Muhammadur-Rasullilah — binds a thousand million people who, over the centuries, have come to live in different cultures, speak different languages, live in different political contexts, and who differentiate in some interpretations of their faith….

Any differences must be resolved through tolerance, through understanding, through compassion, through dialogue, through forgiveness, through generosity, all of which represent the ethics of Islam.

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Dushanbe Serena Hotel Foundation Stone Ceremony (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)

The Aga Khan spoke of “a long-term commitment to a process of tourism development that can have deep and lasting benefits for Central Asia.” … The Aga Khan also explained the Serena concept as going beyond providing services, creating employment, setting quality benchmarks and generating urban renewal to include “developing human resources, elevating corporate ethics, practising good citizenry and inspiring public confidence.”

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Vancouver Sun Interview, Don Cayo (Vancouver, Canada)

So the risk of failure [of democracy] is that these parts of the world will remain fragile, ill-governed, with weak economies. Internal stresses will become external stresses. They will start gaining a global dimension. … [R]isk management in foreign affairs seems to me to be one of the really necessary attitudes towards global affairs today…. An important thing is looking forward across time, rather than being in a reactive mode. The reactive mode is a tremendous liability. Being in an anticipatory mode changes the whole nature of things, and the longer you have to change things, the better chance you have of making it work….

[We're also] worried about another form of poverty, which is lack of access. We’re beginning to sense the lack of access in society for the ultra-poor is one of the things that defines poverty from one generation to the next. People simply don’t have access to the social support systems that a normal individual would have. Therefore it’s not only material poverty, it’s actually quality of life poverty, and that is a dramatic situation.

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Sociedade das Nações Interview, Martim Cabral and Nuno Rogerio (Lisbon, Portugal) ·· incomplete

Well if you ask yourself how an institution could be effective in terms of — as far as possible — ensuring security, ensuring the capacity to improve quality of life, then you have to ask yourself what does the institution need in order to achieve those goals? … Then the second thing was: “what did you need to make a difference?” And there the question was: “What could you do?” And the ’60s … the ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s were decades of dogma in much of the developing world and it was a conflict of dogmas that we had to deal with between let’s say capitalism, as it was known at the time, and communism, as it was known at the time, and those dogmas tended to dominate political thinking and because of political thinking, they dominated economic thinking, social thinking, etcetera. So it was a time of great difficulty when developing countries were trying to find their way forward, and there were all sorts of, obviously, international interventions — or should I say interventions from outside — where these governments didn’t take independent decisions, they were often caused by others. So we looked at what we could do at that time in education, in healthcare, in economic support. We tried to build individual support systems according to the country we were involved in and this is what has caused the development network to become the way it is now … So the network today is the consequence of field driven needs. [Emphasis original]

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Aga Khan Development Network and Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan ‘University of Central Asia Treaty’ Signing Ceremonies (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) ·· incomplete

Mountain populations experience extremes of poverty and isolation as well as constraints on opportunities and choice, but at the same time, they sustain great linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious pluralism, and show remarkable resilience in the face of extraordinarily harsh circumstances. By creating intellectual space and resources this university will help turn the mountains that divide the nations and territories of Central Asia into the links that unite its peoples and economies in a shared endeavour to improve their future well-being.

ALL MISSING: We regret all (or most) of the speeches during this visit are not available in the Archive. Listed below are some events he attended where Mawlana Hazar Imam made or may have made a speech. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have these speeches, or others from the visit, would kindly share them with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

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L’Expansion Interview, Roger Priouret, ‘Face to Face with the Aga Khan’ (Paris, France)

[Translation] I always say this: one cannot change religion overnight. This evolution is a slow thing, and it is, therefore, an everlasting job with its own rhythm, usually a lot slower than the political and economic upheavals of the present time. What takes me the most time is no longer the management of business as the Imam for, as I have told you, it is very decentralized. Above all I give advice.

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International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan (Tokyo, Japan)

His Highness the Aga Khan would like to announce today a multi-year financial commitment, which will be no less than U.S. $75,000,000, to enable the Aga Khan Development Network to conceptualise and implement a recovery, reconstruction and long-term development programme that will span many regions of the country. It will range in scope from agriculture-based rural development; food and seed security; rehabilitation of capital infrastructure; to the provision and upgrading of health and education services from the primary to the tertiary levels; institution and capacity building especially at the community-level; and the restoration of the cultural heritage for social inclusion. In this task, we will draw on our long experience, going back some 25 years, of the neighbouring region, including post-conflict Tajikistan, and the extreme poverty and inter-communal tensions of the isolated mountain regions of Northern Pakistan In all these areas, we will continue to work closely with other members of the international community.

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Sunday Times Interview, Andrew Longmore, ‘Victory in today’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe would crown almost perfect racing season’ (London, United Kingdom) ·· incomplete

Well, [Alamshar] done everything asked of him. In France, he’s never been beaten. He’s run on every ground. He was an excellent two-year-old and he’s an excellent three-year-old. He’s a very complete horse, a very elegant horse and he’s also very calm. These are qualities I identify with and the racing public identifies with, too.

I did say at the time that I thought Alamshar would not be an autumn horse, whereas Dalakhani might be. I’m extremely fortunate to have two very good horses in the same year. Often if you have two like that, they will avoid each other until the Arc, but the careers of these happened to come together at the Irish Derby. In exceptional circumstances, you just have to work out what is the right thing to do.

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FMIC Women’s Wing Foundation Stone Ceremony (Kabul, Afghanistan)

There is one more dimension of our future vision that deserves to be mentioned before we conclude. I refer to an exciting plan to create, on the land adjacent to this site, a great new Kabul International Medical Centre — a Centre of Excellence for providing tertiary care services and medical education of the highest quality. This new complex will be an intellectual and service hub for an integrated health delivery system serving the entire Central Asian region.

The region includes the neighbouring countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Northern Pakistan, Kazakhstan and even Western China, where the Integrated Health System would impact over 100 million people. The success of this regional initiative, in my view, is predicated on public-private partnerships that sustain the institutions through best practice. Indeed the relationship we have established with this hospital and those in Bamyan and Faizabad are models of such partnerships.

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Yo-Yo Ma and Silk Road Ensemble Performance in Collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)

For many years, I have felt that traditional music played such a critical role in the cultures of Central Asia that it deserved attention and assistance. The need became all the more apparent after the countries of the region achieved independence and began the process of redefining themselves. For the new countries of Central Asia, the inherent pluralism of their societies can be an asset rather than a liability.

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Presidential Address at the First Anniversary of Mindanao University (Manilla, Philippines)

During the two Caliphates, the Muslim Universities were producing the best scholars, doctors, astronomers and philosophers. Today where are we? Have we institutions of learning which can compare with the Sorbonne, Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, M.I.T.? Throughout my journeys I have been deeply pained to see the lack of initiative which my brother Muslims have shown in educational matters. In some circles there may have been a fear that modern education would tend to lessen the sharpness and deepness of our faith. I am afraid that I must reject this with vehemence.

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Dinner hosted by President of Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)

[Google translation] Formal links with the Imamat West Africa dates back to 1960 when a young Imam, I had the opportunity to visit several countries in the region. At the time, this country was called Upper Volta. But our informal links back to a much longer time since historians speak because of trade in the 12th century between the scholars of the University of Sankore in Timbuktu and al-Azhar university institute founded in Cairo in early 10th century by my ancestor, Imam-Caliph al-Muizz Fatimid. So Mr. President, our reports are very very old.

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