Contents of the ‘Aga Khan III’ category in chronological order.

Province of Ontario and Ismaili Imamat Agreement of Cooperation Signing Ceremony (Toronto, Canada)

Our history, our interpretation of our faith, is anchored in the intellect and we rejoice in investing in the human intellect. It’s part of the ethics of what we believe in and it’s part of what we believe distinguishes us, obviously, from the environment in which we live. So the agreement that we have is giving us new opportunities to widen our exposure to education in the industrialised world, but to widen that education within a context where our values are the same. And that it is very important, because it’s clear with a global community — such as the Ismaili community — we need to invest in global values, in values which can be applied to any society, at any time in any part of the world. [Emphasis original.]

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‘Message to the World of Islam’: Collection of speeches, messages and writings ·· incomplete

INCOMPLETE: We regret that all of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah’s, Aga Khan III, speeches and articles published in “Message to the World of Islam” (listed below) are not available in the archive. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have a copy would kindly share it with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

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Will of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III

EVER since the time of my ancestor ALI, the first IMAM, that is to say over a period of thirteen hundred years, it has always been the tradition of our family that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from amongst any of his descendants whether they be sons or remoter male issue …

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The final reconciliation between the Shia and Sunni doctrines

We Ismailis now in the same spirit [as Hazrat Ali had done] accept the Khalifat of the first Khalifs and such other Khalifs as during the last thirteen centuries helped the cause of Islam, politically, socially and from a worldly point of view. On the other hand the Spiritual Imamat remained with Hazrat Ali and remains with his direct descendants always alive till the Day of Judgement. That a spiritual succession to the Imamat makes the Imam the ‘Ulu’l-amr Menkom always according to the Qur’an and though he has his moral claim to the Khalifat as well, always he can, like Hazrat Ali himself owing to the conditions of the world, accept and support such worldly authorities as the Imam believes help the cause of Islam. Thus a final reconciliation without upsetting either Sunni or Shia doctrine has been proclaimed always by me as the faith of all the Ismailis.

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Reincarnation or Companionship On High?

The Christian burial ceremony and the prayers then said by the presiding ecclesiastics refer to resurrection in a way that implies some kind of similarity with the supposed historical resurrection of Christ three days after his death….

The Hindu and Buddhistic explanations of life after death, with always the influence of the soul taking forms either much lower, such as the lowest animals, or much higher, like some of the so called Gods of both Brahmanism and Buddhism, seem to many brought up outside their immemorial tradition as more a hope and pious wish than anything founded on fact….

This is a third way of looking at survival after death (apart from the Biblical raising of the body, and from the indefinite and varied doctrines of the several Hindu schools of thought and the two great Buddhist Northern and Southern sects). It is the hope of all true Muslims, like their Prophet, namely, “Companionship on High.”

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Platinum Jubilee Ceremony, ‘Material Intelligence and Spiritual Enlightenment’ (Cairo, Egypt) ·· incomplete

The world of spiritual enlightenment is fundamentally different from the world of material intellectualism and it is the pride of the Ismailis that we firmly believe that the world of spiritual enlightenment has come as a truth from the inception of Islam to this day with the Imamat and carries with it as one of its necessary consequences love, tenderness, kindliness and gentleness towards first, our brother and sister Muslims of all sects and, secondly, to those who live in righteousness, conscience and justice towards their fellow men. These religious principles of Ismailism are well known to you for you have heard them from me and through your fathers and grandfathers and from my father and grandfather until I fear that by long familiarity with these teachings some of you forget the necessity of re-examination of your heart and religious experience.

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‘My Philosophy of Happiness’, W. R. Titterton Interview (London, United Kingdom) ·· incomplete

I should, first of all, advise my heirs to learn to desire the thing that happens, and not try to mould events to their desires…. I say that you should endeavour to suit your desire to the event, and not the event to your desire….

I would counsel my heirs to seek satisfaction, not in the flux of circumstances, but within themselves; I would have them resolute, self-controlled, independent, but not rebellious. Let them seek communion with that Eternal Reality which I call Allah and you call God! For that is the twin problem of existence to be at once entirely yourself and altogether at one with the Eternal.

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‘This I have learned from life’ published in Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)

Society consists of individuals and when we find civil societies that were once upon a time vigorously their own and indeed with obvious superiority amongst other organised social bodies, and are then left behind while others progress far beyond even the imagination, leave alone the knowledge of their former supervisors, then indeed, unless we want to commit suicide, it is necessary to look deeper and to ask questions and find answers….

Alas, at the critical time in the Muslim East more and more thought and concentration was given to further study of the classical discoveries of the past. The “Allama” theory of knowledge in which the past was given complete wisdom and the future was to follow rather than go forward, put a stop to what was most important for political, economic and indeed cultural life.

Both East and West are agreed that the Grecco-Arab period produced some of the greatest intellectual giants of the human race. But while we were satisfied to look at the world through the eyes of our giants, the West insisted on more and more pygmies sitting one over the other on the top of the giants’ shoulders till their accumulated height was infinitely greater than that of the original giant on which they had built their foundations.

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Chapter 2: Islam, The Religion of My Ancestors (The Memoirs of Aga Khan III)

What has been my own policy with my followers? Our religion is our religion, you either believe in it or you do not. You can leave a faith but you cannot, if you do not accept its tenets, remain within it and claim to “reform” it. You can abandon those tenets, but you cannot try to change them and still protest that you belong to the particular sect that holds them. Many people have left the Ismaili faith, just as other have joined it throughout the ages…. There has never been any question of changing the Ismaili faith; that faith has remained the same and must remain the same. Those who have not believed in it have rightly left it; we bear them no ill-will and respect them for their sincerity.

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Message to all Pakistan Women’s Associations, ‘Importance of Women’ (Karachi, Pakistan)

Oh my sisters, agitate. Leave no peace to the men till they give you religious freedom by opening mosques for prayers not side by side with men but in reserved quarters attached to all the mosques, so that the habit of praying in public and self respect and self-confidence becomes general amongst women. On that foundation of religious equality, you can then build social, economic, patriotic and political equality with men.

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Message to lsmailia Women’s Association, ‘The Status of Women’ (Karachi, Pakistan?)

Biologically the female is more important to the race than the male. While average women are capable of earning their own livelihood like men, they are the guardians of the life of the race, and only through their natural constitution are they able to bear the double burden. Experience shows the strong probability that the active influence of women on society, under free and equal conditions, is calculated not only to bring about practical improvement in the domestic realm, but also a higher and nobler idealism into the life of the state. Those who know Muslim society from within readily admit that its higher spiritual life owes a great debt to the example and influence of women.

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Letter to H.E. Dr. Zahid Husain, President of Arabiyyah Jamiyyat, ‘What have we forgotten in Islam?’ (Karachi, Pakistan)

Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Qur’an God’s signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of Divine power, Divine law and Divine order. Even in the Ayah of Nur, [the] Divine is referred to as the natural phenomenon of light and even references are made to the fruit of the earth. During the great period of Islam, Muslims did not forget these principles of their religion.

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Reply to The Times of London, ‘The Tolerance of Islam’ (London, United Kingdom)

[I]f there has been violent reaction against the West in some of the Muslim countries, the reason is to be found in the attitude and behaviour of the Westerners, their ignorance and want of respect for the faith and culture of Islam, of which the reference to that faith in your leading article is a typical and usual example…. [I]f the Atlantic nations and the West generally wants better relationship with the Muslims, the solution lies in their own hands, and this can be done only if they change their mental attitude and cultivate better understanding of the Muslims’ material needs and loyal recognition of the high quality of their national culture and the purity of their faith.

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Address to Motamer al-Alam-al-Islamiyya, ‘Arabic Universal Language of the Muslim World’ (Karachi, Pakistan)

Every Muslim child of a certain economic standard learns the Qur’an in Arabic, whether he is from Dacca or Quetta. He learns his Alif-Bey to read the Qur’an. Arabic is the language of Islam. The Qur’an is in Arabic. The Prophet’s hadith are in Arabic. The highest form of Islamic culture in Spain was in Arabic. Your children must learn Arabic to a certain extent always. The same is true of your West whether Sind, Baluchistan or the North.

From the practical and worldly point of view, Arabic will give you, as a national language, immediate contact not only with the 40 million Arabic-speaking people of independent nations on your West, but the other 60 million more or less Arabic-speaking people who are not independent but who exist in Africa…. If we turn to the Far East, Arabic has prospered throughout the region inhabited by 80 million Muslims of Indonesia, Malaya and Philippines….

Is it not right and proper that this powerful Muslim State of Pakistan, with its central geographical position, its bridges between the nearly 100 million Muslims of the East and 100 million Muslims of the West — its position of the East from Philippines and the Great State of Indonesia and Malaya and Burma and then westward with the hundred millions in Africa, right up to the Atlantic, should make Arabic its national language and not isolate itself from all its neighbours and from the world of Islam with a language that was associated with the period of downfall of Muslim States. And finally, while Arabic, as a universal language of the Muslim world will unite, Urdu will divide and isolate.

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A Broadcast Message on Radio Pakistan, ‘Build up that free Islamic state mentality’ (Karachi, Pakistan)

[The] Qur’an and the Tradition [have both insisted] that nature is the great daily book of God whose secrets must be found and used for the well being of humanity. Islam is essentially a natural religion, the miracles quoted in the Qur’an are the great phenomena surrounding us and we are often told that all these manifestations can be used and should be, with intelligence, for the service of man. Let us never forget that in the struggle for existence of the future only those will survive who control the forces of nature to the greatest extent.

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Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, ‘Future of Muslim States in the Background of History’ (Karachi, Pakistan)

Ladies and Gentlemen, believe me, true Islam was and is dynamic and not static. It was dynamic, simple, clear during the glorious Ommaiad period when the foundations of Islam were laid wide and deep — so wide and deep that in spite of all its later weaknesses it survived the terrible Mongolian invasions and the far more terrible enemy of Europe later. Ladies and Gentlemen, ask your historians, ask your thinkers to concentrate on that glorious 100 years of Ommaiad rule and take that for example with its simple faith and open mind, with its dynamic qualities without scholasticism and its legal servitudes. Muslim histories were mostly written by their enemies under the Abbasids and yet with all its bitter prejudices, they cannot help glorifying not in words but by facts that period of simple faith and activity. Some of the very greatest of Muslim saints like the Khalifa Umar Ibne Abdul Aziz, the greater Hassan Basri, the Spanish ruler Hisham Ibne Abdulrehman, brilliant saints of Islam, were the children of that period. Unfortunately it fell and with it the certainty of the Islamisation of Europe and with it of the world.

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‘Can we stop the next war?’ published in The Sunday Post (Kenya), Egyptian Mail (Egypt), The Tanganyika Tribune (Tanzania)

As the first World War drew to its close and Allied victory seemed inevitable, leading thinkers and the governing classes among the victorious powers, led by Wilson, saw that only a world government, overshadowing all states and guarding peace, could prevent future risks of wholesale destruction. For this, many eminent men, headed by Wilson, Smuts, and others, set to work. The chief outcome of their deliberations was the League of Nations …

The League Covenant was a perfect instrument — for angels. Human beings, with their passions and weaknesses, with their loves and hatreds, with the long traditions of autonomy, national sovereignties, of former wars and jealousies, could never have worked the Covenant successfully over long periods….

Now we have the present Charter [of the United Nations]. And once more there is disappointment, for in all real activity it seems to be as powerless as its defunct predecessor. Excellent on paper, ideally perfect in its fine adjustment of regulations, it is impotent the moment it touches the fundamental rights of any State that has the power and energy to challenge its decisions….

It has shown itself to be a wonderful platform for airing opposite views. If it is left as at present, sooner or later we will find the Great Powers settling things among themselves, either at the cost of the small fry, or with such bitterness after each so called pacific settlement of a thorny question as to make future warfare a probability first, a certainty later. So drift will replace the grandiose objectives of the founders of the United Nations, and the disillusions of the League be repeated.

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Lecture to the Dar es Salaam Cultural Society, ‘World Peace and Its Problems’ (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

[Peace and goodwill] were the dreams, the teachings of the outstanding figures of the past. Such have been the yearnings of most ordinary mortals from time immemorial, and yet what is history except on rare occasions one long, long story of war and warfare? In Islam during the greater part of the golden age of Omiyyas [Umayyads] in Syria and Spain [and] my own ancestors in Egypt [were] periods of peace, in all the odds and ends, made up together some hundred years of peace, but not in one extension. With those rare occasions, 30 to 40 years here and 30 to 40 years there, there has never been peace. In Rome there was a glorious period of some 60 years’ peace. But that is about all. The Middle Ages and the age thereafter consisted of minor and constant struggles. The horrors of the Mogul [sic Mongol] invasion of Western Asia of Genghis Khan and Tamerlaine are well-known facts, which leave us with something like the impression of a nightmare. The bloody battles of the Crusades, which in the name of the noblest, led to untold miseries for East and West are glaring fads.

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Guidelines for the Muslims of Transvaal (Johannesburg, South Africa) ·· incomplete

The greatest danger to every Muslim citizen — I have not the least hesitation in saying it — is alcohol. Time has shown that it is an injury to you; an injury to your person; an injury to your health. It is forbidden because it carries greater evil than good. Believe me, in a community like yours, alcohol is a very grave danger. Once you got into the alcohol habit, I do not know where it would lead you. A handful, here and there, of the weak, or of the unhappy, find their way to this terrible poison. Avoid it at all costs. Avoid it, I say, for in this country you cannot afford to lose one man….

Personally, if I had two children, and one was a boy and the other a girl, and if I could afford to educate only one, I would have no hesitation in giving the higher education to the girl. The male could bend his energies to manual effort for reward, but the girl’s function was the maintenance of home life and the bringing up of the children. Her influence in the family circle was enormous and the future of the generation depended upon her ability to lead the young along the right paths and instruct them in the rudiments of culture and civilisation.

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Chapter 4: Glimpses of Islam (The Religious Revival of Islam) (Pakistan) ·· incomplete

It must not be forgotten that, according to the principle of Ijma already mentioned, the interpretation of the precepts and laws which regulate the lives of the Faithful, as laid down in the Qur’an and in the Traditions of the Prophet, can be done at any time and for any generation. Such an interpretation, by means of the Ijtihad which is a personal and living research, can be made, within the general limits of the Qur’an and Traditions. The suppleness of Muslim Law enhances its value, and its broad lines leave room for vigorous growth and adaptation to the changing and unforeseeable circumstances of international life. Muslim Law must, therefore, be freed of the rigid character, given to it by ancient codifications. It would be erroneous to assume that the door to interpretation has been shut, because the four leading juridical schools of Muslim orthodoxy had already decided, for all time, as to the prescriptions of Muslim Law.

Even with regard to these four schools (Hanafite, Shafi’ite, Malikite and Hanbalite), an individual Muslim is free to choose among them the rules to follow on different points; and to do that, he may not be obliged to strictly adhere to a single school. The practical result of this universally admitted freedom is quite obvious; it simplifies the carrying on of law and more easily meets modern conditions of life.

As regards the Qur’an, we stress the fact, that to be better understood — without being blindly attached to the exegesis of ancient authorities — it would inspire Muslims to a revival of religious thought and action. The Traditions and Sayings of the Prophet are to be seriously and critically studied with a view to freeing them from posterior deviations and infiltrations. As regards the four juridical schools, we may point out that their divergences are of little importance, and there are no antagonisms between them.

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