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

Over the past 57 years, His Highness the Aga Khan has, time and time again, emphasised the critical importance of new ideas for solving the pressing problems of our times — whether communal, local, national, regional or global. Albert Einstein said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions” and also that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” While Maria Montessori — of early childhood education fame — said “Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.” And Peter Drucker — the famous American management consultant — said “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

And it is in “wanting something new” where the Aga Khan has not just dreamed great ideas, but “dared to act” and executed on his ideas, making them real. One of these is the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Outside the world of architecture, planning and habitat, the AKAA is perhaps the least understood, least appreciated facet of the Aga Khan Development Network, yet the raison de etre of the AKAA was to create a forum for the development of ideas, for the discussion of ideas and for their reward. The Aga Khan explains:

The goal was to create an intellectual space — something we might think of as a beautiful bustan in which there would be no possibility of suffocation from the dying weeds of dogma, whether professional or ideological; where the flowers of articulation and challenging ideas could grow without restraint; where the new plants of creativity and risk-taking could blossom in the full light of day. — 2001 Aga Khan Award For Architecture Prize Ceremony (Syria)

In other words, in creating the AKAA, the Aga Khan created a laboratory where not only can the intellect engage in unfettered experimentation and exploration, but a laboratory from where valuable principles and lessons can be learned and used by all who truly have that inborn sense of courage and spirit of adventure to explore, discuss and implement new ideas, to embrace new paradigms, to push the envelope.

In keeping with the theme of our card, we would like to share with you some of the Aga Khan’s important quotes — drawing partially on lessons learned from the AKAA — on ideas and innovation: on nurturing, respecting and harnessing them from whomever they may come.

Click here for: His Highness the Aga Khan on on ideas and innovation: on nurturing, respecting and harnessing them from whomever they come.