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

Featured Item  »»  The Road to Toronto (Collaborative): The vision and rationale behind the Aga Khan Museum’s pre-launch exhibitions

Next month the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park are expected to be officially opened. In anticipation of this landmark event, NanoWisdoms is pleased to present The Road to Toronto series in which, each week, we’ll focus on a different aspect of this multi-faceted institution. This week’s instalment, and last of the series, is on the collaborative aspect and the Aga Khan Museum exhibitions.

Between 2007 and 2012, while the Museum’s facilities were under construction, the Museum nevertheless embarked on its mission to bring knowledge of Muslim civilisations to Western audiences, holding eight exhibitions in collaboration with key museums across nine European cities, supplemented by additional exhibitions in three Eastern cities. The Museum will continue to collaborate with Museums across the world to bring this knowledge to greater audiences than just those who visit the Museum in Toronto.

The exhibitions already held were generally thematic, focusing on subjects like architecture, calligraphy and so forth accompanied by lavish catalogues of the exhibits which we commend to everyone to peruse and study. Click on the image, or here, to view the catalogue covers. Each catalogue also featured a short introduction, written by His Highness the Aga Khan, setting out the purpose for the exhibition and we are pleased to bring you selections from these introductions.

Click here to read:
His Highness the Aga Khan explains the vision and rationale behind the the Aga Khan Museum’s pre-launch exhibitions

Image credits (pursuant to 2012 Canadian Statute, Bill C-11, Section 29.21): akdn.org

Featured Item  »»  The Road to Toronto (Societal): The vision and rationale behind the Aga Khan’s passion for parks and gardens

Next month the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park are expected to be officially opened. In anticipation of this landmark event, NanoWisdoms is pleased to present The Road to Toronto series in which, each week, we’ll focus on a different aspect of this multi-faceted institution. This week’s instalment is on the societal aspect and the park.

The park is the latest of some two dozen parks and gardens created, or committed to, by His Highness the Aga Khan and illustrated on the graphic. Click on the image, or here, to view it in full size or download as a wall-paper for your computer.

In an interview with Philip Jodidio, the park’s designer, Lebanese architect Vladimir Djurovic, said the Aga Khan has a “passion for gardens which is intoxicating” and that he feels the Aga Khan “is happiest when he is working and discussing the gardens.” Why is this? Why are parks and gardens such a point of focus and happiness for the Aga Khan?

Read more »

Featured Item  »»  The Road to Toronto (Intellectual): The vision and rationale behind the Aga Khan Museum

Next month the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park are expected to be officially opened. In anticipation of this landmark event, NanoWisdoms is pleased to present The Road to Toronto in which, each week, we’ll focus on a different aspect of this multi-faceted institution. This week’s instalment is on the intellectual aspect and the Aga Khan Museum.

When opened, the Aga Khan Museum will be a unique museum on the North American continent, and indeed the Western world. To help better understand why, we bring you “His Highness the Aga Khan explains the vision and rationale behind the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.”

Click here to read:
His Highness the Aga Khan explains the vision and rationale behind the Aga Khan Museum

Image credits (pursuant to 2012 Canadian Statute, Bill C-11, Section 29.21):
Fumihiko Maki and Maki Associates via The Aga Khan Museum, Jodidio, 2008

Featured Item  »»  The Road to Toronto (Spiritual): The vision and rationale behind the Ismaili Centres

Next month the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park are expected to be officially opened. In anticipation of this landmark event, NanoWisdoms is pleased to launch The Road to Toronto. Each week we’ll focus on a different aspect of this multi-faceted institution, starting this week with the spiritual and the Ismaili Centre.

When opened, the Ismaili Centre, Toronto will be the sixth such Centre, with more planned for Houston, Los Angeles and Paris. To help better understand the Ismaili Centres, we present “His Highness the Aga Khan explains the vision and rationale behind the Ismaili Centres.”

Click here to read:
His Highness the Aga Khan explains the vision and rationale behind the Ismaili Centres

Image credits (pursuant to 2012 Canadian Statute, Bill C-11, Section 29.21):
London: WikiPedia; Burnaby: Mohib Ebrahim; Lisbon: capturedvibes.blogspot.ca; Dubai: Muslim Harji via simerg.com; Dushanbe: FNDA Architecture Inc. via simergphotos.com; Toronto: Imara Wynford Drive via urbantoronto.ca

The Road to Toronto Credits:
Concept & Research by: Azeem Maherali
Design & Published by: NanoWisdoms Archive

Foreword to the Daily Nation 50th Anniversary Special Supplement, ‘After 5 decades, the future depends on ability to adapt’ (Nairobi, Kenya)

My own role in the Nation Media Group has also evolved considerably. Seven years ago I gave my personal shares in NMG to the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) — the economic development arm of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The move not only gave NMG a new source of corporate strength but it also anchored the company in a broader development philosophy designed to bring excellence and best practices to societies in the developing world. It also allowed NMG to benefit from the Network’s significant experience in East Africa.

Read more »

Mark Hopkins Hotel Press Conference (San Francisco, USA) ·· incomplete

INCOMPLETE: We regret that from this interview, only limited portions made public by the reporter are available below. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have the complete transcript would kindly share it with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

Read more »

Philip Jodidio Interview (1st) published in Connaissance des Arts, ‘Bridging the Gulf’ (Paris, France)

The press, at least, gives the impression that similar radical attitudes exist in other Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia.

You are right. There are parts of the Muslim world where those tendencies are present and parts of the Muslim world that have sustained the Taliban. That just goes to confirm that there is no unanimity in Islam with regard to this form of interpretation. Generally speaking, you will see as much diversity in the Islamic world as you do in the Christian world today. That is one of the big problems. The West does not really understand the pluralism of the Islamic world. Things will continue this way.

The Islamic world has been exposed to your pluralism; we have been colonised for decades. We know a certain amount about the different interpretations of the Christian faith. Take the example of the Iranian revolution. Was the word “Shia” in the common language of the Western world before that? If you went around the West and asked what the difference between the Shia and the Sunni interpretations is, how many people could answer? Reverse the question, go into the Muslim world and ask what basic differences there are between Catholicism and Protestantism, for example, and many people would know. There is a gulf of misunderstanding, which is very deep indeed. It is very damaging because the Western world tends to interpret things on the basis of a lack of information and understanding of what is really happening.

Read more »

Standard Tanzania Interview, Mansoor Ladha, ‘Islam – The Most Multi-Racial Faith’ (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

I am a Muslim and Muslims believe that all men are equal no matter what the colour of their skin and I am therefore fundamentally opposed to apartheid in any form. I would wish to emphasize that Islam is probably the most multi-racial faith existing. Within this context, I think it is known that I do not believe it is in the interest of the Jamat to live in a society where multi-racialism is unacceptable.

Read more »

Interview with an unidentified media outlet, #1 (Cairo, Egypt) ·· incomplete

And you’re asking can this concentration of assets become a trampoline for economic and social development. And the answer is very clearly, yes.

Read more »

AKDN Commitment of $50 million to Pakistan’s Earthquake Appeal (Islamabad, Pakistan)

The AKDN will contribute the extensive experience it has gained in recent decades in the mountain zones of the Hindu Kush, Pamirs, and Tien Shan in Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. This includes lessons learned about such issues as the special needs of rural and urban planning in mountain habitats, the development of energy and water sanitation infrastructure and resources, seismic-resistant construction, as well as training and capacity building for disaster preparedness, particularly at the community level.

Read more »

Conference on Indigenous Philanthropy (Islamabad, Pakistan)

The Qur’an, the Hadith, the sayings of Hazrat Ali, and many scholarly sources make numerous references to the forms and purposes of philanthropy. Human dignity — restoring it, and sustaining it — is a central theme. Enabling individuals to recover and maintain their dignity as befitting their status as Allah’s greatest creation, is one of the main reasons for charitable action. There is dignity in the individual’s ability to manage his or her destiny. That being the case, the best of charity, in Islamic terms, can go beyond material support alone…. This means that multi-year support for institutions that enable individuals to achieve dignity by becoming self-sustainable, holds a special place amongst the many forms of charity in the eyes of Islam.

There is another precept found in the Qur’an and Islamic philosophical texts of great significance that is particularly relevant in this context. It is the emphasis on the responsibilities placed upon those charged with the management of philanthropic gifts and the institutions supported by them. The duty of responsible stewardship is very clear, a concept that can be equated to the notions of trust and trusteeship in today’s international legal terminology. The obligation to maintain the highest level of integrity in the management of donated resources, and of the institutions benefiting from them, is grounded in our faith.

Read more »

Address at Massey Hall (Toronto, Canada)

It is a particularly happy day, for me, that we are extending this partnership, strengthening it, giving it new opportunities, in areas of development needs that are essential — young children, isolated peoples, post conflict situations. So we have a partner, a wonderful partner, who works with us not in the easy, comfortable parts of the world, but who works with us where there are challenges, where there are difficulties, where people fight, and where people seek to develop just a simple life of survival. And that is a unique partnership because it’s a partnership for people. It’s a partnership for people in difficulty. It’s a partnership where imagination is essential if you want to build strong programmes.

Read more »

Oleg Grabar Interview (Boston, USA) ·· incomplete

[Mimar Magazine] too elite a voice and a publication for the expression of the concerns of history, tradition and identity raised by the [Aga Khan Award for Architecture]. It quite simply did not reach enough people because it was too expensive.

Read more »

Preface to the book ‘Syria, Medieval Citadels Between East and West’ by Stefano Bianca (Aiglemont)

Such deep and abiding affinities [between Christendom and the Muslim world] demonstrate that so-called conflicts between East and West — whether past or present — are political or ideological constructs that have no real basis in deeper cultural and religious fact. Beyond and apart from the controversies highlighted by contemporary observers (and acerbated by modern nationalistic concepts originally alien to Islam) there has always been a tradition of cultural exchange, tolerance and mutual understanding — even during conflictual situations such as the invasion by the Crusaders. It is this ‘subterranean’ tradition of multicultural symbiosis and of tolerant pluralism, as exemplified by the cultural history of Syria, which needs to be brought to light again, in order to overcome stereotypical prejudices that aggravate any real or imaginary conflicts that may still exist.

Read more »

Closing Remarks, Second Seminar in the Series, ‘Conservation as Cultural Survival’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Istanbul, Turkey)

The Aga Khan Awards, the first of which will be granted in 1980, will be substantial: $100,000 in each of five different categories for a potential total of $500,000 every three years. Their purpose is to make a strong and continuing impact on the architectural profession, on decision makers and on public opinion everywhere.

Read more »

Ottawa Citizen Interview, Chris Mikula and Hayley Mick (Ottawa, Canada) ·· incomplete

I don’t believe that societies are born pluralist. Pluralism has to be omnipresent in civil society … it’s got to be part of the way a society is constituted.

Read more »

Le Monde Interview, Henri Tincq (Paris, France)

[Google translation] Indeed, military intervention [in Afghanistan] may not be limited. In a country like Afghanistan where the Taliban decided to resist mountain by mountain, valley by valley, the war may last longer. But I repeat that the reconstruction work must begin now. It passes through the country’s liberation, but also by establishing a sort of safety belt around Afghanistan. The challenge is to stabilise the whole region. From Pakistan to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, all its neighbours are in danger of destabilisation, religious radicalism and have an equal interest in the restoration of a legal situation. Tajikistan has only to end the civil war. The regional impact of pacification and stabilisation of Afghanistan can be considerable.

Read more »

Jamati Institutional Leaders Dinner (Dhaka, Bangladesh) ·· incomplete

It has been an enormously happy visit. In many ways an inspiring visit because it has demonstrated how even a small Jamat can achieve outstanding results which are complex, which are necessary, but which, which your endeavours, your work, your unity … you can achieve results which are completely unexpected.

Read more »

Aga Khan Development Network and State of Texas ‘Agreement of Co-operation’ Signing Ceremony (Austin, USA)

The agreement that we are signing today opens for us the opportunity to build bridges to the best of civil society in Texas and in the United States and in that sense it is a partnership which we want to now translate into effective action in various parts of the world. (akdn.org)

In order to bridge [the gap between the developed and developing world] we come to you in humility and we ask for help. And we ask for that help on the basis that it is good for the improvement of the quality of life of people around the world. (theismaili.org)

Read more »

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.

Read more »

Aga Khan Award for Architecture Prize Ceremony, Seminar (Agra, India) ·· incomplete

As we move forward it is important for us to accept that we are a community of people interested in building environments for Muslims in different parts of the world. We are looking at creating inspiring value systems which our societies and our professionals will be able to look to and to say to themselves, with these value systems we can move forwards in trust and confidence because we have an understanding of the kind of environment we wish to have.

Read more »

Address to both Houses of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons Chamber (Ottawa, Canada)

When the clashes of modern times have come, they have most often grown out of particular political circumstances, the twists and turns of power relationships and economic ambitions, rather than deep theological divides. Yet sadly, what is highly abnormal in the Islamic world gets mistaken for what is normal. Of course, media perceptions of our world in recent years have often been conveyed through a lens of war. But that is all the more reason to shape global conversation in a more informed direction. I am personally aware of the efforts the Prime Minister has made to achieve this. Thank you, Prime Minister….

Perhaps the most important area of incomprehension, outside the Ummah, is the conflict between Sunni and Shia interpretations of Islam and the consequences for the Sunni and Shia peoples. This powerful tension is sometimes even more profound than conflicts between Muslims and other faiths. It has increased massively in scope and intensity recently, and has been further exacerbated by external interventions. In Pakistan and Malaysia, in Iraq and Syria, in Lebanon and Bahrain, in Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan it is becoming a disaster. It is important, therefore, for non-Muslims who are dealing with the Ummah to communicate with both Sunni and Shia voices. To be oblivious to this reality would be like ignoring over many centuries that there were differences between Catholics and Protestants, or trying to resolve the civil war in Northern Ireland without engaging both Christian communities. What would have been the consequences if the Protestant-Catholic struggle in Ireland had spread throughout the Christian world, as is happening today between Shia and Sunni Muslims in more than nine countries? It is of the highest priority that these dangerous trends be well understood and resisted, and that the fundamental legitimacy of pluralistic outlooks be honoured in all aspects of our lives together, including matters of faith.

Read more »

Opening Remarks, Eighth Seminar, ‘Development and Urban Metamorphosis’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Sana’a, Yemen)

Above all we need to learn from experience, discovering how both ancient and modern forms have evolved so that we can succeed in our task of creating an environment for the Islamic world which is both appropriate to its traditions and relevant to its future. The architectural environment of man is both a master and a servant. Because it is financially and economically an all but irreversible investment, it can become a tyrant dictating a way of life which is abhorrent or, at best, inflexible. But, if fully thought out, it can become a perfectly adaptive setting in which man can grow according to the guidance of Allah to the fullest maturity of which his spirit is capable.

Read more »

Ismaili Centre Opening Ceremony (Burnaby, Canada)

The Ismaili community has sought to create a building here which is both Islamic in its architectural inspiration and of a quality to enhance the overall distinction of Burnaby. The Jamatkhana is designed to be a social and cultural centre, as well as a place of congregation. It expresses the Ismailis’ desire to give of their best to the cultural and economic fabric of Canada. They are proud that it symbolises their commitment both to this country’s future and their ancient heritage. Nor is there any dichotomy in this dual aim. Muslims believe their faith is not for one time, but for all times and so there cannot be conflict between tradition and modernity.

Read more »

Please answer our new poll, in the margin, and let us know why transcripts of the Imam's remarks are important to you. Thank you.