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

In keeping with the theme of our card — Relativism — we would like to share with you our Editor’s article, Beyond Relativism: The Aga Khan on Personal Search, Universal Ethics and Pluralism, published today on the Ismaili Gnosis website. An excerpt from the introduction appears below.

UPDATED: APRIL 28, 2015 — In the original version of this article the author mentioned pluralism but had not addressed it. He has now done so and we are pleased to amend the article with his robust reconciliation of His Highness the Aga Khan’s support for pluralism and his rejection of relativism. — Editor, Ismaili Gnosis

Relativism — the worldview that suggests there are no “black and white answers” as all points of view are equally valid because knowledge, truth, ethics and morality are not absolute but relative to, and depend on, the individuals, groups or contexts (cultural, religious, societal, historical, civilisational) holding them — is, arguably, one defining facet of contemporary, liberal society. Indeed, it may even be the signature characteristic of a liberal society.

As champion of cosmopolitan ethics, pluralism and of an interpretation of Islam which unequivocally a) upholds the legitimacy of diverse and individual interpretations, b) reprimands bids to normatise, and c) insists on personal search as an essential facet of Islam, it is often assumed that His Highness the Aga Khan, therefore, also embraces relativism, given its air of legitimacy that arises from the “pluralistic equity” it accords to all points of view. However, it may come as a surprise to many — as is often the case when the Aga Khan’s actual remarks are not studied but his position only assumed — that the Aga Khan has emphatically and unambiguously described relativism as “unprincipled.”

… I review below the Aga Khan’s exact remarks on the above principles so as to reconcile his disdain of relativism with the apparent relativistic thread common to these principles he holds near and dear to his heart.

Click to read: Beyond Relativism: The Aga Khan on Personal Search, Universal Ethics and Pluralism