Contents of the ‘United States’ category in chronological order.

Samuel L & Elizabeth Jodidi Lecture and apres lecture conversation with Diana L. Eck, Harvard University (Cambridge, USA)

For a very long time, as you know, the term most often used in describing the search for human understanding was the word “tolerance.” In fact, it was one of the words that was used in 1955 text to describe one of the objectives of this Jodidi Lecture. In recent years our vocabulary in discussing this subject has evolved. One word that we have come to use more often in this regard is the word “pluralism.” And the other is the word “cosmopolitan.”

You may know that our AKDN Network, a decade ago, cooperated with the Government of Canada to create a new Global Centre for Pluralism based in Ottawa, designed to study more closely the conditions under which pluralist societies can thrive.

A pluralist, cosmopolitan society is a society which not only accepts difference, but actively seeks to understand it and to learn from it. In this perspective, diversity is not a burden to be endured, but an opportunity to be welcomed.

A cosmopolitan society regards the distinctive threads of our particular identities as elements that bring beauty to the larger social fabric. A cosmopolitan ethic accepts our ultimate moral responsibility to the whole of humanity, rather than absolutising a presumably exceptional part. Perhaps it is a natural condition of an insecure human race to seek security in a sense of superiority. But in a world where cultures increasingly inter-penetrate one another, a more confident and a more generous outlook is needed. What this means, perhaps above all else, is a readiness to participate in a true dialogue with diversity, not only in our personal relationships, but in institutional and international relationships also. But that takes work, and it takes patience. Above all, it implies a readiness to listen. What is needed, as the former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson has said, and I quote, is a readiness “to listen to your neighbour, even when you may not particularly like him.” Is that message clear? You listen to people you don’t like!

A thoughtful cosmopolitan ethic is something quite different from some attitudes that have become associated with the concept of globalisation in recent years. Too often, that term has been linked to an abstract universalism, perhaps well-meaning but often naïve. In emphasising all that the human race had in common, it was easy to depreciate the identities that differentiated us. We sometimes talked so much about how we are all alike that we neglected the wonderful ways in which we can be different.

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Religion and Ethics Newsweekly Interview, PBS, Lucky Severson (USA) ·· incomplete

How much are you guided by your faith? Is your faith everything?

Yes. I wouldn’t be guided by anything else. I wouldn’t understand that.

So every minute of every day, you’re guided by your faith?

Well, the faith has 1400 years of tradition. It has been exposed to so many different situations that there’s practically no human situation unknown to it, although science is changing things today.

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88th Stephen A. Ogden, Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs and apres lecture conversation with Christina Paxson, Brown University (Providence, USA)

[T]he key to human cooperation and concord has not depended on advances in the technologies of communication, but rather on how human beings go about using — or abusing — their technological tools.

Among the risks of our new communications world is its potential contribution to what I would call the growing “centrifugal forces” in our time — the forces of “fragmentation.” These forces, I believe, can threaten the coherence of democratic societies and the effectiveness of democratic institutions. Yes, the Information Revolution, for individuals and for communities, can be a great liberating influence. But it also carries some important risks.

More information at our fingertips can mean more knowledge and understanding. But it can also mean more fleeting attention-spans, more impulsive judgements, and more dependence on superficial snapshots of events. Communicating more often and more easily can bring people closer together, but it can also tempt us to live more of our lives inside smaller information bubbles, in more intense but often more isolated groupings. We see more people everywhere these days, standing or sitting or walking alone, absorbed in their hand-held screens. But, I wonder whether, in some larger sense, they are really more “in touch?” Greater “connectivity” does not necessarily mean greater “connection.”

Information travels more quickly, in greater quantities these days. But the incalculable multiplication of information can also mean more error, more exaggeration, more misinformation, more disinformation, more propaganda. The world may be right there on our laptops, but the truth about the world may be further and further away. The problem of fragmentation in our world is not a problem of diversity. Diversity itself should be a source of enrichment. The problem comes when diverse elements spin off on their own, when the bonds that connect us across our diversities begin to weaken.

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Vanity Fair Interview, James Reginato, ‘The Aga Khan’s Earthly Kingdom’ (USA) ·· incomplete

We have no notion of the accumulation of wealth being evil … It’s how you use it. The Islamic ethic is that if God has given you the capacity or good fortune to be a privileged individual in society, you have a moral responsibility to society.

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2011 University of California San Francisco Medal Interview (San Francisco, USA) ·· incomplete

His message is simple. If we help societies create their own support systems, for health, education and economic development “… then societies will evolve positively and without too much difficulty. Now that sounds over optimistic, and it might well be but that’s the goal.”

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Acceptance Remarks – 2011 University of California San Francisco Medal (San Francisco, USA)

[I]n much of the world where we work, our problem is volatility — volatility in economics, in governments and so on and so forth. I think what we’ve learned is that the best answer to this volatility, in the countries where we are, is civil society and very often civil society is not an expression everyone is comfortable with. But I’ll try synthesise it by saying it is really the sum of human endeavour in structured, non-governmental organisations, that aim to impact positively all the key forces which condition people’s quality of life…. Now in developing civil society we are not trying to bring mediocrity to the Developing World. We’re trying to do exactly what UCSF is doing, which is to bring quality and excellence.

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NBC Interview, Richard Engel, ‘A Hollywood stepson and a Muslim leader’ (USA)

I certainly think the invasion of Iraq was a serious mistake. We had crisis situations before that. We had them in Kashmir. We had them in the Middle East. If you look at the origins of those crises, they were political not religious. At the moment, it’s the horrible conflicts which are dominating the image of the Islamic world and I can say without one iota of fear that is totally wrong, totally wrong. You had wars in the Christian world, you had wars in the Jewish world. But you don’t define them in theological terms anymore, except Northern Ireland.

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Aga Khan Development Network and State of California ‘Agreement of Co-operation’ Signing Ceremony (Sacramento, USA)

We have seen over the developing world in Africa and Asia, that when politics are fragile, what continues to sustain development is civil society. If you build a strong civil society, then you have a country that continues to progress even if governments are unstable.

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Aga Khan Development Network and State of Texas ‘Agreement of Co-operation’ Signing Ceremony (Austin, USA)

The agreement that we are signing today opens for us the opportunity to build bridges to the best of civil society in Texas and in the United States and in that sense it is a partnership which we want to now translate into effective action in various parts of the world. (akdn.org)

In order to bridge [the gap between the developed and developing world] we come to you in humility and we ask for help. And we ask for that help on the basis that it is good for the improvement of the quality of life of people around the world. (theismaili.org)

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Address to the Global Philanthropy Forum (Washingon D.C., USA + [Canada])

[Why have our development] efforts over five decades not borne greater fruit? Measured against history, where have things gone wrong? Given the progress we have made in so many fields, why have we been so relatively ineffective in sharing that progress more equitably, and in making it more permanent?

My response centres on one principal observation: I believe the industrialised world has often expected developing societies to behave as if they were similar to the established nation states of the West, forgetting the centuries, and the processes which moulded the Western democracies. Forgotten, for one thing, is the fact that economic development in Western nations was accompanied by massive urbanisation.

Yet today, in the countries of Asia and Africa where we work, over 70 percent of the population is rural. If you compare the two situations, they are one and a half to two and half centuries apart. Similarly, the profound diversity of these impoverished societies, infinitely greater than that among nascent European nation states, is too often unrecognised, or under-estimated, or misunderstood. Ethnic, religious, social, regional, economic, linguistic and political diversities are like a kaleidoscope that history shakes every day.

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Interview featured in PBS/E2 Series’ ‘A Garden in Cairo’ (USA) ·· incomplete

There is an often quoted ayat [of the Qur’an] which says that you should leave the world in a better environment than you found it. You have a responsibility of legacy of God’s creation of the world, to improve that legacy from generation to generation. So there’s an ethical premise to it.

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Luncheon hosted by Governor and First Lady of Georgia (Atlanta, Georgia , USA) ·· incomplete

Georgia is making very, very serious, intelligent commitments to developing forces in the Knowledge Society. When we work in the developing world, we are trying to build new institutions, and our most difficult thing to achieve is to enter that Knowledge Society. And entering into that Knowledge Society is a question of people. It’s not only a question of money, it’s institutions working with institutions.

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The Peterson Lecture, Annual Meeting of the International Baccalaureate (Atlanta, USA)

[T]he great problem of humankind in a global age will be to balance and reconcile the two impulses … the quest for distinctive identity and the search for global coherence. What this challenge will ultimately require of us, is a deep sense of personal and intellectual humility, an understanding that diversity itself is a gift of the Divine, and that embracing diversity is a way to learn and to grow — not to dilute our identities but to enrich our self-knowledge….

As we move into that future, we would like to collaborate with the International Baccalaureate movement in a challenging, but inspiring new educational adventure. Together, we can help reshape the very definition of a well educated global citizen. And we can begin that process by bridging the learning gap which lies at the heart of what some have called a Clash of Civilisations, but which I have always felt was rather a Clash of Ignorances….

There will be a strong temptation for us to regard these new frontiers as places to which we can bring some special gift of accumulated knowledge and well seasoned wisdom. But I would caution against such an emphasis. The most important reason for us to embrace these new opportunities lies not so much in what we can bring to them as in what we can learn from them.

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Jamati Institutional Leaders Dinner (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) ·· incomplete

I think that there probably isn’t an area of human endeavour in which we do not have today a Murid who is exceptional in his or her own field.

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Luncheon hosted by Governor of Illinois (Chicago, Illinois, USA) ·· incomplete

I am here to learn. I am also here to seek partnerships. The global knowledge society is led by the United States. And therefore we are looking for partnerships. Partnerships which are long, which are stable and which produce quantifiable results. We will work with anybody who wants to help us in social development, economic development, pluralism and more important than anything else, building civil society.

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Aga Khan University and University of Texas at Austin ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ Signing Ceremony (Austin, Texas, USA) ·· incomplete

Today marks a milestone in the partnership between two renowned institutions. I am delighted that the University of Texas and the Aga Khan University are committed to sharing the benefits of their research, teaching and service. In working together to develop and strengthen human resources and knowledge, AKU and UT will bring new capacity and capabilities to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

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Dinner hosted by the Governor and First Lady of Texas (Austin, Texas, USA)

The American ethic and ideal — the Texan ethic and ideal — has always been one of openness to others and openness to the future. It is an ethic of opportunity, which the Ismaili Community deeply shares. This commitment to opportunity is exemplified in the vitality of your diverse multi-ethnic society. It is rooted in a deep respect for the individual human being independent of one’s background or origins.

The Governor has cited words from the Qur’an about the affinity of our religious commitments. The teachings of the Qur’an, like those of the Bible, also resonate with the words that rang out from Philadelphia in 1776: affirming that “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Those words express our common ideal….

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Various events during the April 2008 visit to the United States of America (USA) ·· maybe missing

MAYBE MISSING: We regret that some (or many) 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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CNN Main Sail Interview, Shirley Roberston (USA)

This year was the 40th anniversary of the yacht club, Costa Smeralda. What’s been your highlights during that period?

Two I would recollect, which was the first challenge for the America’s Cup. Italy had never challenged and as you know it’s a challenge done by clubs. So the yacht club, Costa Smeralda, was the first boat to challenge with Azzura [in 1983]. I think the other one was to win the Blue Ribbon of the Atlantic with Destriero [in 1992], the first large, high-speed, mono-hull.

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‘Tolerance a Religious Imperative’ published on newsweek.washingtonpost.com (USA)

[I]t is striking to me how many modern thinkers are still disposed to link tolerance with secularism — and religion with intolerance. In their eyes — and often in the public eye I fear — religion is seen as part of the problem and not part of the solution.

There are reasons why this impression exists. Throughout history we find terrible chapters in which religious conflict brought frightening results. When people speak these days, about an inevitable “Clash of Civilisations” in our world, what they often mean, I fear, is an inevitable “Clash of Religions.” But I would use different terminology altogether. The essential problem, as I see it, in relations between the Muslim world and the West is “A Clash of Ignorance.” And what I would prescribe — as an essential first step on both sides of that divide — is a concentrated educational effort….

Tolerance which grows out of hope is more than a negative virtue — more than a convenient way to ease sectarian tensions — more than a sense of forbearance. Instead, seen not as a pallid religious compromise but as a sacred religious imperative, tolerance can become a powerful, positive force, one which allows all of us to expand our horizons — and enrich our lives.

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