Contents of the ‘University of Central Asia (UCA)’ category in chronological order.

Inauguration of the Naryn Campus of the University of Central Asia (Naryn, Kyrgyzstan)

Students of world history remind us how Central Asia, a thousand years ago, “led the world” in trade and investment, in urban development, in cultural and intellectual achievement. This was the place that leading thinkers from around the known world would look to for leadership. What were the latest breakthroughs in astronomy or mathematics, in chemistry or medicine, in philosophy or music? This was the place to find out. This region is where algebra got its name, where the earth’s diameter was precisely calculated, where some of the world’s greatest poetry was penned.

Why did this happen then? Why did it happen here? Above all, I would suggest, it was because of the quality of “openness.” By that I mean openness to new ideas, openness to change, and openness to people from many backgrounds and with a variety of gifts. The people of the cities here, even all those centuries ago, joined hands with the people of the steppes, and together they reached out to people who were far, far away. That kind of openness can again be the key that unlocks the doors to the future.

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‘A Life in the Service of Development’ published in Politique Internationale (Paris, France)

Practically no countries [sic] in Asia, Africa or the Middle East have a political landscape rooted in a strong two-party system as do many Western democracies. The probable consequence is that in many if not most countries of the developing world, coalition government will be omnipresent in the decades ahead. Yet few of these countries have any established experience with coalition governance (this is true of even the most powerful countries of the industrialised world). This critical challenge will become even more complex in countries where functioning compromises must be found between secular and theocratic forces.

A possible common ground could be found if all the political forces accepted over-arching responsibility to nourish a cosmopolitan ethic among their peoples. This would be an ethic for all peoples, one that offers equitable and measurable opportunities for the improvement of their lives, measured in terms of their own criteria for quality living. Clearly, different peoples will have different visions about a desirable quality of life, in urban versus rural areas, for example.

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ZDF (Enterprises) Interview (2nd) for the documentary ‘Islam and the West’, ‘Morgenland’ (‘Orient’) (Germany) ·· incomplete

[As] a Muslim we don’t make the divide between faith and life in the same way as parts of the Christian world do, not all of it but there are large parts of the Christian world which make that divide. We don’t make that divide. Islam doesn’t allow you to make that divide. You reflect your belief, your faith in the faith of Islam, not only by your attitude to the faith itself but to the society in which you live — to poverty, to the family, to ethics in your civil behaviour. It’s part of your everyday life. You live the faith. And I think that’s why many, many Muslims, not me but others, including myself, define the faith as, a way of life because it is a way of life. [Emphasis original]

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Various events during the October 2008 visit to Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan) ·· missing

ALL MISSING: We regret all (or most) of the speeches during this visit are not available in the Archive. Listed below are some events he attended where Mawlana Hazar Imam made or may have made a speech. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have these speeches, or others from the visit, would kindly share them with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

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Press remarks with an unidentified media outlet (Central Asia) ·· incomplete

In Islam, imams whether they are Shia or Sunni, they have a duty to serve people. That is the nature of imamat and, therefore, in countries where the Ismaili Imamat can bring support and help, it is our duty to do so and we’re very happy to do so in Central Asia, like we are doing so in the Indian sub-continent, we’re doing so in East Africa, in West Africa. So it’s part of the mandate of any Imam. But it’s a big mistake to think that you can do development only for Muslim communities. Many countries have mixed communities and therefore you have to do development for all the people within a given area whether they are Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Sikh. You have what I would call a civil responsibility. [Emphasis original]

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Address to the Conference on Central Asia and Europe: A New Economic Partnership for the 21st Century (Berlin, Germany)

It is appropriate that the word “Regional” is at the centre of our deliberations on Central Asia. The countries are diverse in many ways — and the development approaches there must be sensitive to divergent requirements. But these countries also have a common historical experience, including several centuries of shared Islamic heritage. Each of them has faced the need to build new political and economic institutions following the breakup of the Soviet Union. And, as the EU Strategy document emphasises, each of them can only optimise their development through a regional approach.

In this respect, the Central Asian experience parallels the European experience. In Europe, too, the end of the Cold War demanded new political and economic structures and it is striking how quickly Europe is now reaching out to Central Asia — offering, among other things, the great gift of a powerful regional example. Among other things, the European example demonstrates that a healthy sense of national identity need not be a barrier to constructive regional engagement….

The key to building partnerships, whether they are among social sectors or among countries, is a profound spirit of reciprocal obligation — a readiness to share the work, to share the costs, to share the risks, and to share the credit. In the end, what it will require most in Central Asia, as it has in Europe, is a spirit of mutual trust.

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University of Central Asia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan Campuses Foundation Stone Ceremony (Khorog, Tajikistan; Naryn, Kyrgyzstan) ·· incomplete

We are talking about something of the order of 40m people who live in the highest mountain ranges in the world, with the Karakorum and the Pamir…. In Afghanistan I think [the univeristy] will have a role. In north-west Pakistan I think it will have a role; in western China also. And Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey — all these countries that have high mountain populations…. (BBC, 5 July 2004)

We are celebrating the foundation of a unique institution. By creating intellectual space and resources, the university will bring the power of education and human ingenuity to the economic and social challenges of mountain societies in Central Asia and elsewhere…. There are two measures of success of any university. The careers of its graduates, and the quality of research, which is carried out in the universities and then is used for the benefit of the communities that the university serves.

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Lead architects for the University of Central Asia campuses announcement (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan)

There is a growing appreciation of the link between the intellectual resources of major universities and the overall development of cities and nations. The three campuses of the University of Central Asia will be catalysts for the development of the region.

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Visit to Kazakstan (Tekeli, Kazakhstan)

Speaking to the media after his meeting with the President [of Kazakhstan], the Aga Khan explained that the University of Central Asia was a regional institution “intended to give students and faculty real capacity to think on a regional basis.” Underlining the secular nature of the University, the Aga Khan said that “it will teach civilisation — in the widest context. It will not teach religion as theology.”

“We started with the programme of extended education — this programme is for those people, for specialists who already work, and posses a profession,” (Khabar News, Kazakhstan, 1 May 2003)

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Globe and Mail Interview (3rd), John Stackhouse and Patrick Martin (Toronto, Canada)

I have to tell you this is my own direct experience, many, many of these situations [of conflict] can be avoided [if] addressed in good time. Many of them. And I really assure you that this is the case. These pockets of extreme poverty, of frustration, of fear of some of these minorities, can be addressed by a direct, focused programme to bring them back into civil society so that they understand that they are not isolated and thrust outside the context of national mainstream.

And it is amazing how much can be done if you will go in with economic support, social services, dialogue, bringing communities together, focusing on hope in the future rather than looking backwards in despair. That looking backwards in despair is probably one of the most divisive forces that you will ever find in Third World countries….

I think that when you look at the development process, its strength is based on the people’s will to work for themselves. That’s clear. And we’ve seen that.

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International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan (Tokyo, Japan)

His Highness the Aga Khan would like to announce today a multi-year financial commitment, which will be no less than U.S. $75,000,000, to enable the Aga Khan Development Network to conceptualise and implement a recovery, reconstruction and long-term development programme that will span many regions of the country. It will range in scope from agriculture-based rural development; food and seed security; rehabilitation of capital infrastructure; to the provision and upgrading of health and education services from the primary to the tertiary levels; institution and capacity building especially at the community-level; and the restoration of the cultural heritage for social inclusion. In this task, we will draw on our long experience, going back some 25 years, of the neighbouring region, including post-conflict Tajikistan, and the extreme poverty and inter-communal tensions of the isolated mountain regions of Northern Pakistan In all these areas, we will continue to work closely with other members of the international community.

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Corriere della Sera Interview, Massimo Nava, ‘I am amazed by the ignorance on Islam’ (Italy)

[Translation] In fact, in the Shiite credence, one exalts the value of the intellect, of the spiritual guide, therefore of interpretation. But Western thought tends to confuse the bond between spirituality and secularism with a sort of compromise between State and Church. These are different levels, which involve the individual and the community in which one lives, not the political authority of the State. The Qur’an prohibits judging the way in which another Muslim practises faith, but it also prohibits the enforcement of a religious practice or of a faith.

In the world of Islam, which is nearly a fifth of the Earth’s population, there are significant examples of religious practices which conform to a moral concept of the faith. The Qur’an edicts the ethics of responsibility as an obligation for those who have civilian authority, to enhance the well being and the development of their community. This is something which the Taliban have not done and it is because of this that their regime condemns itself. In these conditions, Islam even says that trust in authority must be denied.

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Address to the two houses of the Kyrgyz Parliament (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) ·· incomplete

Within the Ummah it is a recognised and established historic fact that communities have the right to their own interpretation of the Faith. Whether it is the interpretation of one branch of Islam or of the other, of Sunni or Shia, whether of one tradition within either of those branches, or of another, the right of interpretation belongs to each individual….

[It is] important to remember that such situations are not unique in history — the Inquisition in Spain was every bit as cruel and destructive as any case that one can imagine…. What is not acceptable is any attempt to impose a particular interpretation on an unwilling individual or population. The Holy Qur’an says that there shall be no compulsion in religion. What is even worse, is when such an imposition causes degradation of all civilised standards of human behaviour.

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Association of American Universities Centenary Celebration, ‘Making a Difference: Reflections on Shared Problems, Shared Opportunities and Shared Responsibilities in International Higher Education’ (Washington D.C., USA)

But quality is not enough to justify the support of donors, society and the authorities in a developing country; a university’s offerings must also be relevant. Following a study carried out with the assistance of Harvard, AKU’s Board decided to focus its initial efforts on addressing the very poor quality of social services in Pakistan and much of the developing world. Today, the Faculty of Health Sciences, including Nursing, and the Institute for Educational Development, are all having an impact beyond the training of students at high levels in their respective fields….

[O]ver the last fifteen years Pakistan’s professional licensing body has recommended that all medical colleges in Pakistan adopt AKU’s model of community based medical education. Similarly, the Pakistan Nursing Council has adopted AKU’s nursing curriculum. Research has also concentrated on those themes that are relevant and have outcomes that impact society. With respect to the university’s Institute for Educational Development, more than half of all course participants come from government institutions. Here the Institute’s impact is not only visible in the improvements in classrooms and management of government schools, but also in government’s major policy-making fora in which the Institute is invited to participate on a regular basis.

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2000 Aga Khan University Convocation Ceremony (Karachi, Pakistan)

The Institute of Islamic Civilisations in London will give expression to our University’s Islamic character, in an international context. Its programmes are quite distinctive. IIC will create an index of published works on Islamic civilisations in various languages, write abstracts and translate them into the major scholarly languages, and distribute the abstracts globally on the World Wide Web. This unique facility, which would enable many experts around the world to access each other’s work for the first time.

The second activity involves the engagement of scholars and thinkers in thematic research on issues that affect contemporary societies that have escaped systematic attention in Muslim environments. Participants trained in both traditional and contemporary intellectual traditions, would take part in a given project through periods of residence at IIC and over the Internet, and results will be made available on the World Wide Web.

An education programme on Islamic civilisations would be the third area of activity. It would develop materials and curricula for the various units of AKU, other institutions in Aga Khan Development Network, and a broad range of institutions from schools to higher education, in Muslim and other societies. IIC would also organise short courses and seminars around themes, or for specialised groups such as diplomats, journalists, and businessmen. A more formal post graduate programme designed to engender a critical humanistic approach to the study of Islamic civilisations will follow.

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Aga Khan Development Network and Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan ‘University of Central Asia Treaty’ Signing Ceremonies (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) ·· incomplete

Mountain populations experience extremes of poverty and isolation as well as constraints on opportunities and choice, but at the same time, they sustain great linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious pluralism, and show remarkable resilience in the face of extraordinarily harsh circumstances. By creating intellectual space and resources this university will help turn the mountains that divide the nations and territories of Central Asia into the links that unite its peoples and economies in a shared endeavour to improve their future well-being.

ALL MISSING: We regret all (or most) of the speeches during this visit are not available in the Archive. Listed below are some events he attended where Mawlana Hazar Imam made or may have made a speech. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have these speeches, or others from the visit, would kindly share them with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

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Address to the World Bank InfoDev Conference (Washington D.C., USA)

Several sessions have considered the gaps within and between developed and developing countries, and how they may be exacerbated because not all countries and cultures are presently positioned to reap the benefits of new technology. The importance of access was the subject of an entire session this morning. At this point access is the biggest constraint facing the networked economy. I would hope that continued attention to addressing this bottleneck will be one outcome of these meetings. I also those efforts will go beyond conventional programmes of development assistance, and will reflect at least a measure of the ingenuity that has driven the development and applications of this remarkable technology in the last few years.

But it is also important to ask if access is enough — even the probably impossible dream of universal access. Will it not be equally important to develop capacity in the developing world to enable institutions and individuals to be more than users — even interactive users — of the new information technology? We all know that software and some hardware is already being produced in some of these countries. On the basis of my experience in culture and development over the last 30 years, I believe that it is critical to build capacity more generally to position users to be active participants in the advances in the shaping of content and applications. Only then will the full potential of the new information technology begin to be realised. And only then will the concern of some, that the Internet poses a threat to their cultures, be addressed.

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