Next week, on 10 March 2014, His Highness the Aga Khan will deliver the 88th Stephen A. Ogden, Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture at Brown University, Rhode Island. However, this is not the first time he has spoken at Brown University.

Eighteen years ago, the Aga Khan delivered Brown University’s 1996 Commencement Ceremony address, becoming the first Muslim to deliver it in the university’s then 232 year history. In that broad and candid speech, made a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the Aga Khan extensively discussed the West’s ignorance about Islam and highlighted “powerful reasons” why “the West and the Muslim world must seek a better mutual understanding.”

The Aga Khan also noted that “although the modern page of human history was written in the West, [the West] should not expect or desire for that page to be photocopied by the Muslim world,” explaining, with examples, how knowledge and practises must not only be adapted to the context but also that “social and cultural empathy which prepare any successful long-term process of human change from one society to another” is crucial, but lacking.

Though delivered 18 years ago, the issues, concerns and solutions the Aga Khan highlighted then are as relevant, if not more so, today, and, in anticipation of his return to Brown next week, we felt all would benefit from re-reading his 1996 speech.

Click here to read: His Highness the Aga Khan’s 1996 Brown University Commencement Address

Event photo: