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

Featured Item  »»  Imamat Day Mubarak, 2015

The NanoWisdoms Archive of Imamat Speeches, Interviews and Writings wishes all Imamat Day Mubarak (click on the image to view the card).

In keeping with the theme of our card, we would like to share with you some of His Highness the Aga Khan’s advices for leaders:
His Highness the Aga Khan’s advices for leaders which enable sound national and community progress and development.

If this is your first visit to the Archive, we invite you to watch our introductory video here.

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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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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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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Inauguration Ceremony of First MicroFianance Bank (Dushanbe, Tajikistan) ·· incomplete

First and foremost, [First MicroFianance Bank] is an institution — not a project, not a programme, but a permanent establishment of one of the most important sectors in any nation’s economy — the banking sector….

Enabling underprivileged populations to have the opportunity to change their futures has always been a cornerstone of the Aga Khan Development Network’s endeavour … The provision of financial services is a powerful vehicle to combat exclusion and contribute to broad social and economic development.

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State Banquet (Nairobi, Kenya)

Inter-governmental cooperation in many areas can be a key which unlocks the future in East Africa. This is why both the Imamat and the AKDN support the creation of new federal constructs in the region — including the concept of an East African Community. A federal concept simply means that governments will forge a united approach on matters which call for unity — and will operate in disparate ways when diverse approaches are better. To work of course, there must be a feeling of predictability as to who does what. And there must be a sense of equitable opportunity for all partners.

Federalism at its best need not be limited to governmental arrangements. Even as I commend the concept of a new East African Community on the political front, I would also encourage new region-wide approaches on the economic front, as well as in the civil society arena. Again, the dominant themes should be diversity, variety and experimentation — and an appropriate sharing of responsibilities.

History endorses the value of what I have called federal approaches — including the history of Islam — where some of the greatest chapters demonstrate how people who share a common faith can also embrace a broad diversity of local cultures.

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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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Banquet Hosted in Honour of the President of Uganda (Kampala, Uganda)

I believe the people of Uganda can give to the world, in the years ahead, the gift of a vibrant example as a society which has overcome the worst experiences of past intolerance and embraced the abundant promise of a pluralistic but united future.

If one key to unlocking the potential of Uganda, and of all of Africa, is a spirit of pluralism, then another key should be a commitment to excellence. There was a time, earlier in my Imamat, when mediocrity was considered tolerable here because it was “good enough for Africa”. I remember my apprehension at the time, my concern that among all the goals that were set for Africa in those days, the achievement of normal world-class standards was not seen as realistic.

But in the rapidly globalising world of the 21st century, the progress of every country and continent will depend on its ability to meet universal standards. To settle for less is an increasingly dangerous decision. This commitment to achieve global norms, and even to excel, can wisely begin with a nation’s educational institutions and the preparation of our future leaders.

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Interview with an unidentified media outlet 9 days prior to the first Takht Nashini (Enthronement) Ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (London, United Kingdom?) ·· incomplete

Well the [installation] ceremony is a public installation of the Imam. The Ismailis pay homage to the Imam and that is when you are recognised by the world at large as the Imam. Officially as soon as one Imam passes away, his successor takes on from the very minute the Imam has passed away.

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Statement at the Kabul Conference on Afghanistan (Kabul, Afghanistan)

AKDN is of the view that investing in the institutions of civil society and in their capacity to deliver services deserves far greater priority, attention, support and resources than has hitherto been the case, even as investments in rebuilding the State’s institutions continue. Civil society institutions are best able to take into consideration, to reflect, specific provincial or local political situations and socio-economic needs and opportunities. They are well placed to ensure that progress is both public and transparent, that good governance is observed as the norm, just as they are the best tools for ensuring better impact and for hastening visible socio-economic development.

There is need for a sub-national governance structure that is clear, efficient and transparent. There is no reason why planning or programming at the provincial or local level need either contradict or undermine central authority. On the contrary, bankable programmes need to be evolved and implemented that are synchronised with sub-national governance and policy and with the reintegration programme….

There needs to be a willingness to support small-scale and medium-level investments in the short term that may not immediately be considered financially sustainable by conventional measures, but which experience demonstrates are necessary to achieve medium to long-term returns and benefit.

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Centro Ismaili, Lisbon, Opening Ceremony (Lisbon, Portugal)

Although my faith and office place upon me a distinctive perspective and role, I am most certainly not alone in my concern about the pace and direction of change at this moment in history. In recognition of the critical problems of human welfare confronting today’s world, and the role faiths can play in contributing to their resolution, Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Mr. James D Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, convened a Dialogue on “World Faiths and Development” earlier this year. Leaders of nine world faiths participated: Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Tao.

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

All cultures naturally influence each other to a greater or lesser degree; the strongest are those in which the dominant elements remain dominant and refuse to be overwhelmed by external forces. They become stronger still when they retain the ability to select, to absorb that which invigorates and enriches and to reject that which is inimicable. This is what the Western world did in building upon the stronger Muslim civilisation to pull itself out of the Middle Ages. I venture to suggest that this be the process by which Islamic architects and designers develop a physical environment, one which will make of their institutions, their work places, their houses and gardens something which future generations may look upon as a true reflection of the spirit of Islam….

We are not looking for a facade of Islamic architecture, hiding the new behind a shallow imitation of the old. Nor are we looking for an Islamic city which conforms to an outdated and unrealistic system of organisation and human relations….

I would like to formally open this meeting by expressing a deep personal wish: that our objectives not be considered simply in terms of the survival of the Islamic heritage in building forms, but as an attempt to stimulate in the architectural profession and among its teachers an exciting and fulfilling thought process, one which will develop a momentum of its own and become an almost instinctive manner of expression for any architect designing anywhere in the Islamic world.

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Closing Remarks, First Seminar, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Aiglemont)

This seminar has been a source of happiness to me personally in that it has confirmed that we all believe a better, more appropriate, and more sympathetic environment can be created for those hundreds of millions of men and women throughout the world who believe in Islam. It has confirmed the desire to invigorate a Muslim will for an Islamic environment…. Some of you may even leave here with less certainty about future developments than when you came. Even so, a major achievement has occurred. A dialogue has been established among you all, a dialogue which transcends national boundaries and through which runs a common thread.

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CNN Inside Africa/Design 360 Interview, Sylvia Smith (USA) ·· incomplete

Modernity is part of the concern of the award and our objective is to permeate good architecture, not to freeze it any time. The symbols of the past may be re-utilised in modern architecture, they may be dropped, new symbols may come forward — we need continuity, particularly in conservation, but, no, we’re not going to stymie creativity of the Islamic world. [Emphasis original.]

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Edmonton Journal Interview, Keith Gerein, ‘Things become possible’ (Edmonton, Canada) ·· incomplete

People’s horizons are governed by their own context, and what is not in their context is outside their notions of perception. Unfortunately, I would say it is crisis-driven situations which are still dominating people’s attention. What we need to do is go into areas of high risk before they become critical. If you go in after they are critical, it’s too late. But the notion that many of these of crises can be reduced or avoided through anticipatory work is not part of strategic thinking in many parts of the world.

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Acceptance Address – Royal Toledo Foundation Award Ceremony (Toledo, Spain)

[T]he reality is that our world is pluralistic and multi-cultural, and destined to remain so.

Ought we not, then, to focus our attention on periods of history when pluralism was happily embraced? May we not learn thereby the need to nurture what I have recently called a cosmopolitan ethic? For this is the foundation of a merit-based civil society capable of harnessing the best in all walks of life from all groups of people. This is the only way to manage, and build on, pluralism, the critical test of democracy anywhere.

This brings me to Toledo which has so successfully preserved, over many centuries, the evidence of its three-fold culture: magnificent churches, synagogues and mosques. This was an era when each of these cultures, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, retained its independent identity while all worked and came together in a glorious intellectual and spiritual adventure. The legacy was a truly enabling environment conducive to prosperity, harmony, scientific discovery, philosophical insights and artistic flowering — all the defining features of a thriving civilisation.

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Introduction to ‘The Worlds of Islam in the collection of the Aga Khan Museum’ (Madrid and Barcelona, Spain)

The Umayyad Caliphate integrated the Peninsula to a vast transcontinental empire which, from Baghdad to Cordoba, was the focal point of human civilisation during a period of European obscurity. Muslim Spain transmitted to the West many of the literary and scientific works of antiquity, which had been lost at the fall of the Roman Empire. Classical texts, recuperated in the Alexandria Library, were rendered into Arabic and then translated into the Romance languages by the school of Toledo. It was also from al-Andalus that the works of the great Muslim humanists and scientists spread to Europe, contributing decisively to the development of medieval knowledge in a great number of subjects: astronomy, geometry, mathematics, natural history, medicine, geography, technology, philosophy …

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State visit to Canada (Ottawa, Canada)

Expressing his gratitude to the Canadian Government for what he termed “an outstanding partnership,” the Aga Khan observed that the programmes on which the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the AKDN had worked together in Africa and South Asia could now be extended further in Central Asia. “The capacity that we have been able to build together and our joint experience,” said the Aga Khan, “can help minimise the fragility of the start-up situation in Afghanistan.”

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Interview with an unidentified media outlet (Unknown location) ·· incomplete

If those values are destroyed or moved in directions which are not compatible with people’s thinking, the way they live, you find all sorts of disjunctions and dysfunctions. Society becomes dysfunctional. So investing in the culture, in the value systems, and making them effective today is, I think, a major aspect of development.

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Closing Remarks, Eleventh Seminar, ‘Architecture of Housing’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Zanzibar, Tanzania)

I wish to express my admiration to the Government of Zanzibar for having taken the initiative to sustain and enhance and support the Stone Town. This is an exciting initiative, one which I would hope to see replicated with success throughout the Islamic world. The restoration of these historic cities should not be an exercise exclusively in cultural continuity but an exercise in economic rehabilitation and the provision of new economic opportunities for people who did not have that opportunity before.

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State Banquet (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

The commitment to cooperate is not only essential among peoples of different ethnic or religious backgrounds, or different classes, or philosophies. We must also build stronger bridges of cooperation between different sectors of social and economic leadership. I am pleased, for example, to be hearing more and more these days about “public/private partnerships. As we learn to work across the public/private dividing line, we can do things together we could never do separately….

I am pleased to announce the Aga Khan University’s decision to build a major new campus in East Africa — and to locate that campus in Arusha…. It is the biggest expansion step for the Aga Khan University since it opened in Pakistan almost 25 years ago. This new campus will be built over a period of fifteen years with a total investment of some 450 million dollars. It will include a new Faculty of Arts and Sciences and several graduate professional schools. It will be committed to teaching and research of world-class standards.

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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.

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