[This piece is an aggregation of stories and news from 2018 pertaining to Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family that did not appear on Barakah due to the editor being away periodically. This piece therefore complements our coverage of significant events of 2018]
Prepared and compiled by ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos)
MARCH 2018, TORONTO, CANADA
Prince Amyn Aga Khan Attends the Aga Khan Museum for the World of Fatimids Exhibition
The World of the Fatimids, was launched on March 12, 2018 in Toronto. Prince Amyn Aga Khan, younger brother of His Highness the Aga Khan, delivered the keynote address for the opening of the exhibition in which he noted that “The Fatimids pursued a policy of tolerance and inclusiveness, of pluralism hardly matched by any other Muslim dynasty of the medieval period.” Prince Amyn further noted that the period was a renaissance, marked by ‘exceptional creativity’ and new discoveries in astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and the arts. “Fatimid Cairo became a flourishing center of scholarship, the sciences, art, and culture to match its pre-eminence in trade and commerce.”
The Exhibition offered museum visitors a glimpse of history, which was a first of its kind in North America. It pulled together various artefacts (about 90 in total) from 14 international lenders based in Paris, London, New York, Cairo and others. The exhibition took place during Aga Khan IV’s Diamond Jubilee year as the 49th hereditary Imam of the transnational Shi‘a Nizari Ismaili Muslim community.
JUNE 26, 2018, LONDON, U.K.
Prince Charles and Mawlana Hazar Imam Open the Aga Khan Centre
I have always had the greatest admiration for the Ismaili community’s emphasis on intellectual and cultural exploration as a means of integration, and your determination to discharge your obligations as citizens of this country while maintaining your own special and distinctive traditions….It is clear to me that in holding dear the values of humility, honour, magnanimity and hospitality, the Ismaili Community takes its inspiration from you, Your Highness, and from your extraordinary “Greatness of Soul.” — Prince Charles
The Aga Khan Centre was opened by HRH the Prince of Wales in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, at an inauguration ceremony to coincide with Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to the UK.
Mawlana Hazar Imam was joined by Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, and Prince Aly Muhammad, for a momentous occasion in the history of the Ismaili Imamat and the global Jamat.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Foreign Office Minister; and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, were also present at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Centre, situated at the heart of London’s thriving Knowledge Quarter, located in the revitalised area of King’s Cross.
The building was designed by Maki and Associates – his third for Mawlana Hazar Imam following the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
AUGUST 11, 2018, IRELAND
Ireland’s President Michael Higgins receives Mawlana Hazar Imam
His Excellency President Michael Higgins of Ireland and his wife Sabina Mary Coyne on August 11, 2018, received Mawlana Hazar Imam at their official residence Áras an Uachtaráin. The occasion honoured the Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee which concluded in Lisbon on July 11, 2018. Mawlana Hazar Imam also attended the Nations’ Cup, the international show jumping competition which was established with help of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III in 1926.
Mawlana Hazar Imam’s family engagement with Ireland’s equine industry and related economic development spans three generations. The two leaders expressed their commitment to working together to support sustainable development and the strengthening of civil society and of human resource capacity to improve the quality of life and create opportunity in various parts of the world.
SEPTEMBER 18-19, 2018, FRANCE
President Macron of France awards Mawlana Hazar Imam with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
Your Highness, you are a man who is loyal to his commitments, a man of his word and a man of peace. And for everything that you have accomplished in your life for our country, and for stability in the world, France, this evening, would like to warmly express its gratitude by bestowing on you the honour of the Grand Cross in the Order of the Legion of Honour…Your Highness, on behalf of the President of the Republic, and by virtue of the powers vested in me, we have the privilege to award you the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. — Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
President Emmanuel Macron awarded Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour – France’s highest national medal of honour in recognition of his contribution to humanity and achievements over the past 60 years in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations around the world.
The honour was bestowed by upon Mawlana Hazar Imam at a ceremony on September 19, 2018 at le Quai d’Orsay by France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
On 18 September, President Macron received Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Élysée Palace in Paris — the official office and residence of the President of France.
OCTOBER 4, 2018, LONDON, U.K.
Mawlana Hazar Imam attends the 2018 Annual Pluralism Lecture
I am currently writing a book about Scripture in all religious traditions. All scriptures insist that to achieve enlightenment we must let the ego go in an act of kenosis or ‘self-emptying’. Nationalism is all about ego — it encourages a swelling of national pride that often entails the exclusion or the downgrading of the ‘other,’ as Lord Acton predicted. This is now in evidence again. When the Berlin Wall came down, there was dancing in the street. This time, during the most recent US presidential elections, people were cheering at the prospect of a wall being built between the United States and Mexico. — Karen Armstrong, British author
Karen Armstrong, the British author, delivered the annual 2018 Global Centre for Pluralism Lecture on October 4, 2018 at the new Aga Khan Centre in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, Princess Zahra, former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson, and Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism John McNee. The title of Ms. Armstrong’s lecture was “Compassion or Toleration? Two Approaches to Pluralism”.
Each person invited to give the Annual Pluralism Lecture is asked to reflect on how to build and strengthen pluralist societies. The Lecture is hosted by the Global Centre for Pluralism, an independent, charitable organization founded by Mawlana Hazar Imam in partnership with the Government of Canada. It is based in Ottawa, Canada. This was the first time that Annual Pluralism Lecture was held outside of Canada.
In her lecture, Ms. Armstrong spoke about the value of religion during what could be the “last gasp” of nationalism: “What the religions all tell us… [is] that enlightenment insists on overcoming the ego, letting the ego go. Nationalism is about ego, it’s about swelling the ego, and often that means excluding the other, as Lord Acton pointed out.”
Through the prostrations of salat, a Muslim learns the meaning of Islam, a word that means ‘surrender’. The Quraysh, the Meccan aristocracy, were horrified to see the first Muslims bowing to the ground like slaves. But these prostrations teach the body, at a level deeper than the rationalism, what Islam requires. Instead of an ego that prances and preens and draws attention to itself, Muslims touch the earth with their foreheads. — Karen Armstrong
Citing her current work on the scriptures of three of the world’s great religions, she went on to say that “the scriptures — all, in every tradition — say you have to work for the good of others, all others, not just those in your own camp, practically and creatively. That is the route to enlightenment.” Following the lecture, BBC’s Lyse Doucet moderated a conversation with Armstrong, giving the audience an opportunity to ask questions.
Mawlana Hazar Imam introduced Armstrong as, “a person who has contributed in a remarkable way to illuminating Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and indeed understanding all of the great religious traditions.”
In his remarks he said that “I think that one of the greatest challenges for the entire world will be finding ways in which we can all achieve a deeper understanding of the other, and what makes each of us distinct, as human beings and as communities. To achieve this vital goal, reflective, creative and empathetic thinkers and writers will be critically important. Tonight, we are privileged to hear from one of their most respected voices, Karen Armstrong.”
Prior to introducing Karen Armstrong, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke about the late Kofi Annan. The former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace laureate, delivered the Annual Pluralism Lecture in 2013 and also sat on the Global Centre’s Board.
“I was privileged to know and work with Mr Annan for many years. He made an enormous contribution to the Global Centre for Pluralism, just one of his many remarkable contributions to humanity. He will be greatly missed,” Hazar Imam said.
OCTOBER 15, 2018, EDMONTON, CANADA
Mawlana Hazar Imam inaugurates the Aga Khan Garden in Edmonton
Your Highness thank you again for your leadership and for your incredible, incredible generosity. It’s a beautiful gift to Alberta, to its people, and its economy. Everyone from families who have been here for generations, to recently arrived immigrants, will find moments of peace and calm, reflection and joy. And I am delighted that the people of Alberta can count on you, your Highness, as a true friend. And I am proud to say that we stand with you as we work together to build a fairer, more inclusive world. — Alberta Premier Honourable Rachel Notley
Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived in Edmonton on October 15, 2018, accompanied by Prince Aly Muhammad, to begin a visit to Canada that included the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Garden in Edmonton as well as degree conferral ceremonies in Calgary and Vancouver.
Mawlana Hazar Imam joined Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell, Premier of Alberta Rachel Notley, and University of Alberta President David Turpin on 16 October for the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta. The 4.8-hectare Aga Khan Garden, Alberta, located 15 minutes southwest of Edmonton, is the northernmost Islamic garden in the world. Inspired by Mughal-style landscape architecture, it features limestone terraces, geometric water features, an outdoor amphitheater, and an orchard of local plants selected for fragrance, beauty, and ability to thrive in Alberta’s climate.
I know that visitors will be also inspired by this remarkable example that His Highness offers us all. He mentioned what he really wanted was for this to be a place of communication, and I think that’s a wonderful goal. The architect also expressed that the Aga Khan wanted it to be whimsical. Who doesn’t love those little animals all over? How special is that? — Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lt Governor of Alberta
The Aga Khan Garden is Mawlana Hazar Imam’s second landscape project in North America along with the Aga Khan Park in Toronto, and the 11th in a series of parks and gardens developed by the Aga Khan Thrust for Culture. The addition of the Aga Khan Garden to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden is expected to more than double the number of annual visitors from 75,000 to 160,000.
OCTOBER 17, 2018, CALGARY, CANADA
University of Calgary Confers Highest Academic Honour on Mawlana Hazar Imam
We tend, in our secular time, to relegate the spiritual to a separate sphere, as if it has no bearing on the daily challenges presented by all that is sublunary. His Highness teaches by example that these elements are not divergent, but related, parallel passions that can fruitfully interact in the worldly world. His contemporary interpretation of the faith of Islam, through changing contexts, has been a superior guide to maintaining a balance between metaphysical wellbeing and individual quality of life. — Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, President of the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary conferred Mawlana Hazar Imam with its highest academic honour: a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, reserved for the most distinguished individuals who have made extraordinary achievements in community, national, or international services.
Speaking about the prestige of the award and the University’s honour in bestowing Mawlana Hazar Imam with its tribute in the presence of various leaders and dignitaries in attendance, University President Elizabeth Cannon described the conferral as recognising “the friendship, partnership, and the spiritual example” of Hazar Imam who “stands as a living legend, a model for every conscience.”
She continued, referring to Hazar Imam as being “the beloved leader of 15 million Ismailis, a global community representing the abundant traditions and values of a people who have enriched culture and pluralism in more than 25 nations.”
President Cannon also spoke about the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), referring to it as Hazar Imam’s “tangible way of bringing together faith and action, diligently seeking solutions to hunger, poverty, illiteracy and ill-health.”
As she concluded the ceremony, President Cannon considered the spirit and essence of Hazar Imam’s work, and ultimately declared that “Heart is the kernel of what His Highness embodies: heart, a passion to inspire, not only through words, but with actions.”
OCTOBER 19, 2018, VANCOUVER, CANADA
The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University each award an honorary doctorate of laws degree to Mawlana Hazar Imam
Renowned for the good works of the AKDN, the Aga Khan has demurred when people call him a philanthropist. He says, rather, that his mandate requires that he use the office of the Ismaili Imamat which he inherited to improve the quality of life for the world’s most vulnerable. He presents his work not as an act of generosity but as the exercise of his responsibility. If we all took the same view in our own lives, it would be such a better world. — Professor Santa Ono, UBC
The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University each awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree to His Highness the Aga Khan in a joint conferral ceremony—a first for both universities. The honorary degrees, which were conferred together at a ceremony in Vancouver on October 19, 2018, were awarded in recognition of the Aga Khan’s lifelong service to humanity, and the intersections of his work at UBC and SFU.
“We applaud His Highness the Aga Khan’s outstanding humanitarian contributions,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Santa J. Ono. “In his capacity as spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, his commitment to helping fight poverty and improve health and education for millions of people in underdeveloped and war-torn parts of the world is truly remarkable, and serves as an inspiration to us all.”
“His Highness has demonstrated an exemplary international commitment to address the needs of others,” said SFU President and Vice-Chancellor Andrew Petter. “He has in this context supported programs at both of our universities, and we are grateful for his generosity in promoting positive change in the lives of young people and in advancing the well-being of the communities we serve.”
OCTOBER 21 – 26, 2018, PAKISTAN
Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa Aga Khan visit Pakistan
Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa Aga Khan travelled to Pakistan for a six-day working visit in October 2018, which included stops in several districts of Gilgit-Baltistan as well as in Chitral district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, along with the capital city of Islamabad and the southern city of Karachi.
During their visit, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa examined approaches to poverty alleviation and development, and visited a number of AKDN institutions and projects aimed at improving quality of life.
OCTOBER 23, 2018, NEW YORK, USA
The World Monuments Fund honours Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler with the 2018 Hadrian Award
[Prince Amyn] is generous, thoughtful, responsible and engaged. He can always be counted on for sage advice and counsel and he is always there for WMF when needed. — Lorna Goodman, Chair, World Monuments Fund
Two extraordinary leaders in heritage conservation, Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, were presented with the 2018 Hadrian Awards at the World Monuments Fund’s 31st annual Hadrian Gala held at the Rockefeller Center Plaza in New York City, on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.
Each year, the World Monuments Fund’s Hadrian Gala honours Champions of Conservation for their passionate commitment and extraordinary contributions to preserving and protecting the world’s shared cultural heritage. Among the past recipients of the Hadrian Award is Prince Amyn’s brother, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, who accepted the award on October 25, 1996.
“Prince Amyn and Dr. Leal represent the impact that steadfast leadership can have on cultural heritage sites and their communities around the world,” said Lisa Ackerman, Interim Chief Executive Officer, World Monuments Fund (WMF). “We are thrilled to honour their extraordinary accomplishments this year.” Prince Amyn holds multiple leadership roles within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and has been a lifelong supporter of cultural heritage in all its forms (please watch video, below).
In a private ceremony before the reception, Hersh Parekh, Director of Downstate Regional Affairs for the Office of New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, presented Prince Amyn with a citation issued by the Governor, that stated:
“Prince Amyn has made a profound and positive impact on the world by undertaking monumental activities in the areas of music, heritage, arts and culture, through the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the Silk Road Project, the World Monuments Fund, the Aga Khan Museum, the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as numerous other esteemed institutions.”
Introducing Prince Amyn, WMF Chair, Lorna Goodman, noted that as a trustee for WMF for 20 years, he is “… generous, thoughtful, responsible and engaged. He can always be counted on for sage advice and counsel and he is always there for WMF when needed.”
She went on to describe Prince Amyn’s role with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, where he has “helped pair conservation with social and economic concerns to improve community, health, education, housing and infrastructure around the world. He is also an advocate for beauty and for aesthetic values as well.”
Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler received the Hadrian Award in recognition of his unmatched contributions to the preservation of the historic center of Havana, which is inscribed on the World Heritage List.
In his remarks, Dr. Spengler also paid tribute to Prince Amyn, saying, “I wish to express, also, my honour to have shared this day and these hours, with Prince Amyn Aga Khan, who has been an example of love for beauty, because beauty is as important to man as life itself.”
“CULTURE IS A REFLECTION OF OUR HEARTS, OF OUR DREAMS, OF OUR SORROWS…” — PRINCE AMYN AGA KHAN, PLEASE WATCH VIDEO
NOVEMBER 11, 2018, PARIS, FRANCE
Mawlana Hazar Imam joins world leaders for the inaugural Paris Peace Forum
Mawlana Hazar Imam on November 11, 2018, joined over 60 world leaders for the opening session of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum. Initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, the Forum is founded on the principle that international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace. The Forum was launched on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, marking the end of World War I.
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau in a warm embrace at the Paris Peace Forum. Please click on photo for different format sizes on flicker (upto 2048 x 1365). Photo Paris Peace Forum/ © Marion Dubier Clarck.
“It is my conviction that one of the key conditions for peace in our world today is a greater respect for pluralism,” explained Mawlana Hazar Imam. “In a world challenged by globalisation, social fragmentation and conflict between peoples, pluralism and a well-anchored civil society are essential for human peace and progress. This is why the Aga Khan Development Network is delighted to be a partner of the Paris Peace Forum.”
Earlier in the day, Mawlana Hazar Imam was the guest of the French President at a lunch held at the Elysee Palace for all the visiting heads of state and government.
NOVEMBER 22, 2018, TORONTO, CANADA
Prince Amyn Aga Khan attends Aga Khan Museum for unveiling of donor wall
Prince Amyn Aga Khan attended an event at the Aga Khan Museum on November 22, 2018, where a new donor wall was unveiled to acknowledge friends, patrons, and supporters of the Museum. Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum, expressed deep gratitude to all the friends, patrons, and supporters of the Museum. His remarks were followed by the formal unveiling of the donor wall by Prince Amyn. During his remarks, Prince Amyn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Museum, reminded guests of the Museum’s ambition: “a vision for a more connected, pluralistic world forged through the appreciation and preservation of art.”
He said that though the museum is young it stands apart from other museums notably because of its purpose, “which is to educate, to inspire, and to connect cultures through art. This Museum exists precisely at a time when there is an acute need for communication and understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim societies. Our ambition is to create a living link not only between past and present, Islam and the West, but perhaps most importantly, between people. We hope to change perceptions, to provide the knowledge and understanding that forever banishes isolation.”
NOVEMBER 26, 2018, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Mawlana Hazar Imam attends Geneva Conference on Afghanistan
The experience of the past seventeen years has strongly reinforced my conviction that the path to sustainable peace in Afghanistan depends heavily on two key principles – regional cooperation, which is key for national development and stability; and a commitment to pluralism – the country’s diversity must be cultivated as a source of strength. Everyone in all regions should benefit from investment that creates hope for the future. This is a guiding principle of our investment in Afghanistan. I hope that these are principles on which we can all work together, and to which we remain committed in Afghanistan. — His Highness the Aga Khan
At the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan on November 26, 2018, Mawlana Hazar Imam reaffirmed his commitment to Afghanistan and its people, underlining the importance of regional cooperation and a commitment to pluralism as key factors in the country’s development and stability.
Hazar Imam joined Afghanistan’s President His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive His Excellency Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Ministers from numerous countries, and heads of development organisations working in Afghanistan who had gathered in Geneva.
The conference aimed to bring the international community together to show solidarity with the Afghan people and government in their efforts for peace and prosperity.
“As we come together to support the National Unity Government,” Hazar Imam said, “investing in civil society – encouraging private organisations designed to serve public goals – deserves equal attention. Such institutions can be stabilising factors and points of continuity. That is why AKDN supports the full spectrum of civil society, devoting special attention to health, education, culture, community governance, and public-private partnerships to deliver other services.”
Since 2002, AKDN and its partners have committed over US$ 1 billion in development assistance to the country. Its economic projects now span over 287 cities and districts in the country’s 34 provinces. Its social development work began in 1996 with humanitarian relief, and now spans food security, education, and healthcare in 61 districts in seven provinces. Its cultural programmes in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, and Badakhshan have restored over 90 historic buildings.
Date posted: January 29, 2019.
Before departing this website, may we suggest that you visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 100 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family.
Special acknowledgement: University of Calgary for their permission to reproduce photos from Utoday. The photos are displayed in an image as a collage, above.
- The Aga Khan awarded honorary degrees from UBC and SFU
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