In a world where quality of life is increasingly measured in material terms there is risk that the essential value system of Islam will be eroded, or even threatened with disappearance. Political situations with a theological overlay are also causing disaffection or antagonism between communities of the same faith, and even more so amongst different faiths.

At the centre of this turbulence is Islam. We cannot let this continue. On the other hand, the sheer scale of the problem, added to its complexity, make it an issue which the Ummah, in its entirety, can better address, rather than individual schools of interpretation within it. It will be essential that while respecting their individual identities, various tariqahs within Islam should collaborate to articulate the common social and moral principles of our Islamic value system…. Islam is a faith of tolerance, generosity and spirituality…. Where we can build bridges with other tariqahs around a common Muslim cosmopolitan ethos, we should make this endeavour.

The Ismaili

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In our globalised world, the best standards in any one place will quickly become the globe’s standards, and societies which cannot meet these standards will be left behind to face decades of marginalisation….

It would have been optimistic in 1957, perhaps even adventurous, to expect that many developing countries of Africa and Asia could one day become countries of opportunity for our world’s peoples including the Jamat, but this is precisely the objective that I have been pursuing during the past 50 years: that these parts of the world, that these countries, should become areas of opportunity….

In many countries of Asia and Africa democracy is young and still relatively ineffective in support of modern development activities. While a strong civil society can and does help to counter-balance such ineffectiveness, the processes of democratic government must also receive more attention and support. We must do more to understand the causes of failing democracy and to find new remedies, particularly in the fields of education and communication….

A third area of great emphasis which we have to respond to, is the plight of the ultra-poor: the liberalisation of many economies is creating new opportunities for those who can respond, but there are those who do not have that potential, and who are thus becoming poorer and poorer….

In a world where quality of life is increasingly measured in material terms there is risk that the essential value system of Islam will be eroded, or even threatened with disappearance. Political situations with a theological overlay are also causing disaffection or antagonism between communities of the same faith, and even more so amongst different faiths. At the centre of this turbulence is Islam. We cannot let this continue. On the other hand, the sheer scale of the problem, added to its complexity, make it an issue which the Ummah, in its entirety, can better address, rather than individual schools of interpretation within it. It will be essential that while respecting their individual identities, various tariqahs within Islam should collaborate to articulate the common social and moral principles of our Islamic value system…. Islam is a faith of tolerance, generosity and spirituality…. Where we can build bridges with other tariqahs around a common Muslim cosmopolitan ethos, we should make this endeavour.

Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book

Through fifty years of time and effort, much has changed. The Jamat and the Imamat today live and work in new contexts where there is much greater clarity, and much greater confidence, with which to face the future. To this end, thousands of murids, some of whom are here today, and your presence brings me immense happiness, have given generously of their time and their knowledge, and I convey to them, past leaders, present leaders, my warmest blessings for their remarkable service.

His Highness the Aga Khan IV

NOTES

  1. The above are extracts from the Aga Khan’s message to Ismailis at the commencement of the celebrations to mark his Golden Jubilee (50 years) as Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
    Click here for extracts of the Aga Khan’s message at the close of the celebrations.

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