I have often heard it said, and I think that it is an undercurrent of aspiration widely held in the Islamic world, that it will regain its position of universal recognition. But I think that if that is one of our concerns, we have to be honest about the fact that in order to achieve that, we have to attain political, economic, social, and cultural standards no lower than those of the industrialised world. We will have to accept to be measured by their standards. And after having been measured by their standards, we will have to excel. In order to achieve that, I think we have to accept that it would be a long and demanding course …

In making these closing remarks I would like to begin by thanking His Excellency the President of the Republic, His Excellency the Minister of Religious Affairs, all participants, and the Indonesian Institute of Architects, for the kindness and courtesy, the generosity and consideration, with which they have welcomed us to Indonesia.

It goes without saying that an institution such as the Award and a forum such as this can only be genuinely creative for the Ummah and those concerned with our built environment, if they receive recognition of wise and mature leadership. And this is what we have received here in Indonesia and for that I express your thanks, the Award’s, and my own thanks.

Obviously after four days of intense discussion I am not going to try and summarise what has been summarised already, but I would simply like to comment on the fact that the Award, as a matter of policy, does not bring to seminars issues that are simple. And if some of you may leave this evening with the feeling that these issues deserve more discussion of greater depth, please do not go away frustrated because the nature of the issues that we bring up for discussion at the seminars are issues that are ongoing. They deserve and need continual discussion by intellectuals, architects, thinkers, and others from within and outside the Islamic world. It is a process; it is not a one-time exercise. And I simply want to underline that at the beginning of these comments because I think it is an important process. The objective of the seminar was to try to identify some notions impacting building in the Islamic world. And we have looked at notions, we have discussed them, and I think that we have perhaps not exhausted them, but we have certainly come up with some that deserve further reflection.

The objective of the seminar was to try to identify some notions impacting building in the Islamic world…. We have discussed ritual, we have discussed spirituality, we have discussed aesthetic experience, we have discussed normatism, we have discussed societal ethic, and we have discussed humanism. All these are concepts, all these are notions, which are part of our everyday lives … And in that sense, I think that this seminar, at least from my point of view, has been extremely helpful because probably the question we asked more often than anything else is: what is Islamic architecture?

We have discussed ritual, we have discussed spirituality, we have discussed aesthetic experience, we have discussed normatism, we have discussed societal ethic, and we have discussed humanism. All these are concepts, all these are notions, which are part of our everyday lives — they are part of the everyday lives of everyone who is building within and outside the Islamic culture. And in that sense, I think that this seminar, at least from my point of view, has been extremely helpful because probably the question we asked more often than anything else is: what is Islamic architecture? To try to find some clearly thought-out answers is not an easy exercise and yet I personally am convinced that we must continue to seek these solutions. And some of the concepts, some of the notions, we have discussed at this seminar clearly stem from the essence of Islam and deal with the future of Muslim communities and people who practise the faith of Islam both in the Islamic world and outside.

In these last remarks I would simply wish to widen the context of our thinking. I have often heard it said, and I think that it is an undercurrent of aspiration widely held in the Islamic world, that it will regain its position of universal recognition. But I think that if that is one of our concerns, we have to be honest about the fact that in order to achieve that, we have to attain political, economic, social, and cultural standards no lower than those of the industrialised world. We will have to accept to be measured by their standards. And after having been measured by their standards, we will have to excel. In order to achieve that, I think we have to accept that it would be a long and demanding course, but I hope and pray that at least in the domain of the built environment, the forum of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture will assist everyone involved, in determining the signposts, or at least some of the signposts, which will help us to revive and revitalise one of the most important pillars of Islamic culture and tradition. Perhaps one day around this pillar will come up a multifaceted humanism to which Muslims and non-Muslims will contribute and which hopefully one day Muslims and non-Muslims will be able to stand up and admire.

I thank you for your presence and I ask you to continue to think about the issues that we have discussed and bring to bear upon them all your wisdom, your creativity, and your convictions.

His Highness the Aga Khan IV

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