A thank you letter to Prince Amyn for a life of service and dedication to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

Editor’s note: Though discreet and always working behind the scenes, Prince Amyn’s contribution to the Imamat institutions have always been influential and impactful. On the occasion of Prince Amyn’s 80th birthday on September 12, 2017, Azeem Maherali offers his humble tribute to a remarkable contemporary historical figure from the 49th Ismaili Imam’s family whose commitment for human dignity, global peace and humanism is reflected by his creative ingenuity in multiple dimensions of human endeavor.

September 12, 2017.

Dear Prince Amyn,

While I was still a “toto”, my mom frequently showed me and my brother pictures of the Noorani family and told us how you were always by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s side. I can honestly not remember seeing any pictures of Mawlana Hazar Imam without you, until well after he became the Imam, requiring him to travel extensively to see the jamats while you were still at Harvard. This sentiment carried on in the stories that my father shared with us, about Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the 1950s sending Mawlana Hazar Imam on special missions to visit the jamats in East Africa and South East Asia. Even then, you were always with him.

Prince Karim and Prince Amyn at play on a treePrince Karim (top) and Prince Amyn at play on a tree. Photo: Africa Ismaili, July 1982.

Aga Khan III with grandsons Prince Karim and Prince AmynMawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, 48th Ismaili Imam, with his grandsons Prince Amyn (right) and Prince Karim. The picture was taken in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1942. Photo: 25 Years in Pictures. Islamic Publications, London, UK, Volume 1.

Then later on in the late 1960s, when Mawlana Hazar Imam informed the world wide jamat of your decision to leave the United Nations and to join the Imam in improving the quality of life of the jamats everywhere, the jamats were jubilant. Subsequently, various jamats had the good fortune of being in your presence on various Imamat related works, and at times you brought special messages from our beloved Hazar Imam.

For more than fifty years now, perhaps even longer, you have dedicated your entire life in the service of the Institution of Imamat, channeling your creativity, intelligence, time and energy, knowledge and leadership in numerous Imamat endeavours benefiting both jamati and non-jamati constituencies. Given that Mawlana Hazar Imam rarely speaks about the work of the members of his family; graciously directing compliments to the jamati leadership and countless volunteers, I do recollect a very rare instance that took place in Lisbon in July 1998. Mawlana Hazar Imam referring to you stated that he deeply valued your time, talent, thought and creativity for many of the exceptional projects that had been developed for the Jamats around the world. Mawlana Hazar Imam continued to say that in many ways you exemplified the true spirit of service in Islam – seeking no recognition.

France conferred honours on Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn for their contributions to culture at the Ministry of Culture in Paris.His Highness the Aga Khan and his brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan pictured together at a ceremony held in November 2010 in Paris when the Government of France conferred them with honours for their contributions to culture, both personally and through the activities of the Aga Khan Development Network. Photo: Farida Brechemier Guerdjou//MCC via the Ismaili.

Dear Prince Amyn, we have witnessed and continue to witness with immense happiness your enormous love, loyalty and respect for our beloved Hazar Imam. Throughout your life, you have been by his side as his trusted supporter, loyal advisor and confidant. You continue to be an epitome of inspiration in the service of the Imam, the Institution of Imamat, worldwide Jamats, greater Muslim Ummah and the totality of humanity.

You are “living history”: Brother par excellence; patron of arts and culture; trusted advisor to many; trustee of civilizations past, present and future; an optimistic yet pragmatic futurist; and a great humanist; highly regarded and well-liked by many.

Even as I record my thank you and join with millions of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s murids to wish you a happy 80th birthday, my emotions, feeling and words fail to adequately express my sincerest appreciation for the tremendous magnitude of the work that you are doing. At best, I humbly present below a constellation of honours and a few of the many extraordinary activities that you have been engaged throughout your life in the service of the Imamat and humanity.

Happy 80th birthday, our beloved Prince Amyn.

I remain inspired and in awe,

Azeem Maherali,
Atlanta, Georgia,
USA.

Date posted: September 12, 2017.
Last updated: September 13, 2017.

Copyright: Azeem Maherali/Barakah. 2017.

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This constellation of honours and activities of Prince Amyn is by no means complete. His contribution to the Imamat and humanity at large has been responsible for fostering goodwill, peace and trust among millions around the globe.

Knowledge Diplomacy

  • “Honorary Academician” Albertina Academy of Fine Arts – Turin, Italy
  • Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Director of Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) – Genève, Switzerland
  • Distinguished Speaker at the Scottish Parliament – Edinburgh, Scotland
  • New Cities Foundation (NCF) – Switzerland, France, Canada, USA
    • Member of the Board of Trustees
  • The Silk Road Project – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Advisor to the Silk (Road) Encounters Project Educational Programs
  • BA Magna Cum Laude and MA from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • New England Conservatory of Music – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Cultural Diplomacy

Prince Amyn Aga Khan Museum of Anthropology UBCAn eager and excited crowd of several hundred people applauded handsomely as the chief guest of honour, Prince Amyn, the younger brother of His Highness the Aga Khan, arrives for the opening of a special exhibition “Traces of Words” at the Grand Hall of the Museum of Anthropology of the University of British Columbia in May 2017. Photo: AKDN/Asif Bhalesha.

  • Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters – Government of France;
  • Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – Genève, Switzerland
    • Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC);
    • Chairman of the Aga Khan Museum (AKM) Oversight Committee; and
    • Funding Partner to acquire Sequeira masterpiece ‘Adoration of the Magi,’ for Portugal’s National Museum of Ancient Art – Lisbon, Portugal
  • Museé du Louvre – Paris, France
    • Member of the Board of Directors;
    • Council of the Friends of the Louvre;
    • Member of the Acquisitions Board; and
    • Cercle Cressent (Crescent Circle) Patron
  • Opera National de Paris, Patron – Paris, France;
  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Patron – Paris, France;
  • Fondation pour la sauvegarde et le développement du Domaine de Chantilly (The Foundation for the Development of Chantilly) – Chantilly, France;
    • Chairman of the Friends of the Domaine de Chantilly (FODC) – New York City, New York, USA
  • Syndicat National des Antiquaires – La Biennale Paris 2017 Committee, Member;
  • World Monuments Fund (WMF) – New York City, New York, USA
    • Member of the Board of Trustee;
    • Member of the International Advisory Committee; and
    • Patron
  • Museum of Modern Art, Member of the International Council – New York City, New York, USA;
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Member of the International Council – New York City, New York, USA;
  • The Silk Road Project – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Founding Supporter via AKTC;
    • Member of the Board of Directors; and
    • Sustaining Patron
  • Sotheby’s, Member of the Advisory Board – London, England;
  • Chief Guest at the Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada;
  • Distinguished Speaker at Edinburgh International Culture Summit – Edinburgh, Scotland;
  • Juror:
    • Premio Venezia – Venice, Italy;
    • Vendôme Prize – International venues;
    • Concours de Genève – Genève, Switzerland; and
    • 10th International Architecture Exhibition award at the Venice Biennale 2006 – Venice, Italy

Economic Diplomacy

  • United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs – New York City, New York, USA;
  • Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – Genève, Switzerland
    • Member of the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and Chairman of its Executive Committee;
    • Member of the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM); and
    • Member of the Board of Directors for Tourism Promotion Services (TPS).

Quiet Diplomacy

Vazir Sherali Alidina, President of the Scouting Association, left, was in charge of conducting the investiture ceremony, which began with Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan reciting the Scout Promise with his left hand on the flag of the Ismaili Scouts Association and his right hand raised in half salute. The President then wrapped the Scout Scarf on Prince Amyn Mohamed’s nape, and pinned the scout badge on his left pocket completing the task with a left-handed scout hand shake with the Prince; the Prince now officially became the second Chief Scout of the Ismailis, following his late father, Prince Aly Khan, who was the first Chief Scout of the Ismailis. The dignified ceremony was short and lasted fifteen minutes. Photo: Khizar Hayat Collection, Toronto, Canada.Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan reciting the Scout Promise with his left hand on the flag of the Ismaili Scouts Association and his right hand raised in half salute during his investiture as the Chief Scout of the Ismailis in a ceremony on December 7th 1974 in Karachi, Pakistan. held . Photo: Khizar Hayat Collection, Toronto, Canada.

  • Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Personal Representative to Bangladesh;
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Representative for the renewal of the Partnership Agreement Between AKF Portugal and the Patriarchate Of Lisbon;
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Representative on special missions to Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore and other countries; and
  • Chief of World Ismaili Scouts.

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About the writer: Azeem Maherali, originally of Ottawa, Canada, is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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