Contents of the ‘Spain’ category in chronological order.

Introduction to ‘The Worlds of Islam in the collection of the Aga Khan Museum’ (Madrid and Barcelona, Spain)

The Umayyad Caliphate integrated the Peninsula to a vast transcontinental empire which, from Baghdad to Cordoba, was the focal point of human civilisation during a period of European obscurity. Muslim Spain transmitted to the West many of the literary and scientific works of antiquity, which had been lost at the fall of the Roman Empire. Classical texts, recuperated in the Alexandria Library, were rendered into Arabic and then translated into the Romance languages by the school of Toledo. It was also from al-Andalus that the works of the great Muslim humanists and scientists spread to Europe, contributing decisively to the development of medieval knowledge in a great number of subjects: astronomy, geometry, mathematics, natural history, medicine, geography, technology, philosophy …

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Introduction to ‘Geographies of Islam’ (Toledo, Spain)

“Convivencia” — the Spanish word for living together harmoniously — is not a simple concept. It is, of course, the term used to describe the co-existence of different faiths in medieval Spain. The code of “convivencia” was about tolerance and much more. In Toledo, Córdoba and Granada it implied mutual respect as well as an appreciation of science and scholarship, and of different traditions. The acquisition of knowledge was not an end in itself, but rather a way to understand the beauty of God’s creation.

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Acceptance Address – Royal Toledo Foundation Award Ceremony (Toledo, Spain)

[T]he reality is that our world is pluralistic and multi-cultural, and destined to remain so.

Ought we not, then, to focus our attention on periods of history when pluralism was happily embraced? May we not learn thereby the need to nurture what I have recently called a cosmopolitan ethic? For this is the foundation of a merit-based civil society capable of harnessing the best in all walks of life from all groups of people. This is the only way to manage, and build on, pluralism, the critical test of democracy anywhere.

This brings me to Toledo which has so successfully preserved, over many centuries, the evidence of its three-fold culture: magnificent churches, synagogues and mosques. This was an era when each of these cultures, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, retained its independent identity while all worked and came together in a glorious intellectual and spiritual adventure. The legacy was a truly enabling environment conducive to prosperity, harmony, scientific discovery, philosophical insights and artistic flowering — all the defining features of a thriving civilisation.

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Acceptance Address – Granada de Oro (Granada, Spain)

Granada is truly exceptional; its history is steeped in influences from several major world cultures, each of which is richly represented in the city’s splendid assemblage of historic buildings and public spaces. As someone with a life-long interest in architecture, it is thrilling to move through this city, its monumental buildings, and its historic neighbourhoods. As a Muslim I am moved by the respect and care devoted to the Islamic heritage by the authorities. At the same time, Granada is clearly also a bustling modern city. Managing this combination is a great challenge, one which you and your colleagues are to be congratulated on meeting so admirably.

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Seventh Aga Khan Award for Architecture Prize Ceremony (Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain)

Collectively the seventy-six projects selected for premiation over the last twenty years share a celebration of the humanity of inspired architecture, and confirm the potential of its social purposes. They are also distinguished by the pluralism of the cultures of the Islamic world in which they are rooted, a pluralism that all Master Juries have both honoured and trusted. This richness of cultural expression is even more fully documented in the materials collected on the hundreds of projects considered but not selected in each cycle of the Award. But what are the prospects for the pluralism of cultures in the Islamic world, their richness of expression, and their contributions to world culture as one looks ahead over the next twenty to forty years? On the basis of my extensive travels as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims or in connection with the activities of the Aga Khan Development Network, I feel there are grounds for serious concern….

The loss of our inheritance of cultural pluralism … will impoverish our societies now and into the future. Sustaining this inheritance will require conscious and concerted effort involving the best minds and most creative institutions around the world…. It will also necessitate that the cultures of the developing world establish a presence on the rapidly growing information superhighway to balance those that currently dominate the new electronic media. This will require an investment of time and resources and a mastery of regional and international languages. Unless these cultures develop creditable and creative ways to present themselves effectively in this new and powerful medium of communication, cultural pluralism will suffer a massive setback.

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Closing Remarks, Tenth Seminar, ‘Architecture Education in the Islamic World’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Granada, Spain)

From the presentations of the delegates during the last four days, it is evident that professors and educators in the architectural field do have a number of very fundamental concerns about the way in which their faculties [of architecture] are functioning …

I hope that the reasons underlying the more general difficulties experienced by universities in the developing world in their attempts to deal with the sort of issues which we have been discussing would be identified at a future seminar. Particularly relevant are the questions: What is the relationship between decision making at a university and a given school? How can a number of people get together to improve that decision-making process? For if such decision-making processes fail, then the whole debate that we have been having during the last four days was really discussing a lost cause.

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Opening Remarks, Tenth Seminar, ‘Architecture Education in the Islamic World’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Granada, Spain)

The starting point for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was a realisation that changing social and economic conditions, coupled with the accelerating pace of technological development, were inflicting upon the world’s 800 million Muslims an environment which often did not reflect their culture, their life-styles, their faith and hopes or even the demands of the climates in which they live. Accordingly, since its foundation ten years ago the Award has sought to focus professional and public attention on directions in architecture which will enrich the physical environment of the Islamic world….

In the past the horizons of architectural education have often been limited to principles of construction and the aesthetics of design and decoration. The Award seeks to stimulate architects to think and learn more widely about their art; about the vast spectrum of sources from which they legitimately can and should draw inspiration; about the impact their work will have on the future of the societies they serve.

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