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.

Dust jacket (inside)

His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of Ismaili Muslims worldwide, is recognised internationally for his commitment to Islam as a faith that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man. Under his leadership, the Aga Khan Development Network undertakes numerous development initiatives that serve some of the world’s poorest populations. These projects share a common goal: helping to create an environment in which peaceful, productive societies can flourish.

In Where Hope Takes Root, the Aga Khan sets out the principles that inform his vision. Democracy, he says, must be nurtured in that are practical and flexible. Pluralism must be embraced, so that it exists in both fact and spirit. A diverse, engaged civil society will advance these values. Education is also a critical component, not only in developing countries but in the West. Until the Western world acquires deeper knowledge of Muslim civilisations, His Highness asserts, no truly meaningful dialogue can take place.

In a world too often divided along economic, political, ethnic and religious lines, the Aga Khan’s words are welcome. Eloquent, inspiring and deeply challenging, they express the hope — and the conviction — that profound change is possible.

Dust jacket (back)

Developing support for pluralism does not occur naturally in human society. It is a concept which must be nurtured every day, in every forum — in large and small government and private institutions; in civil society organisations working in the arts, culture, and public affairs, in the media; in the law, and in justice — particularly in terms of social justice, such as health, social safety nets and education; and in economic justice, such as employment opportunities and access to financial services…. In addition each of us can help enhance pluralism in our own personal, professional and institutional domains. We could play our role in favour of pluralism as public opinion makers. We could participate in and support the efforts of groups and NGOs that promote that cause. We could volunteer our professional competences in a variety of fields, such as academic, technical or managerial. We can also serve the cause of pluralism simply through the conduct of tolerance, openness and understanding towards other peoples’ cultures, social structures, values and faiths, and setting an effective example.

My hope is that society as a whole will not only accept the fact of its plurality but will undertake, as a solemn responsibility, to preserve and enhance it as one of our fundamental values, and an inescapable condition for world peace and further human development.

— His Highness the Aga Khan