Four recent pieces on our sister website Simerg, including two by Ismaili youth activist Alyna Noreen Dada of the USA and our senior contributor Shiraz Pradhan of the UK, underline the gravity of racial injustice, and the pain it has caused and continues to cause. We present here a selection of quotes from the writings and speeches of the present Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, his grandfather Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III and his uncle Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, which emphasize that partnership between different races are conditions of peace and prosperity around the world.
Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 – 1957)
I. Date unknown, numerous sources
“All men, rich and poor, must aid one another materially and personally. This fraternity is absolute, and it comprises men of all colours and all races: black, white, yellow, tawny; all are the sons of Adam in the flesh and all carry in them spark of the Divine Light. Everyone should strive his best to see that this spark be not extinguished but rather developed to that full Companionship-on-High.”
II. Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika, Diamond Jubilee Visit, August 10, 1946
“Now one word, if I may be allowed to say it, of general advice to inhabitants here, whatever their race, colour or creed.
“I have had some experience of the causes of strife and I was a very active member of the League of Nations and of the Disarmament Conference for some seven years. Why did it fail? Ultimately because of hate. And yet why did people hate each other? Fear. Where there is fear there is no love, but hate easily enters through the windows even if the door is shut. I appeal to all of you, Africans, Europeans and Indians — do not fear each other. Work together. The country is big enough….To-day, strife here on racial lines is imaginary. The onlooker sees most of the game, and I have been here an onlooker. There is no getting away from it — if you will throw fear out of your minds and you will soon realise that white, black and brown are complementary members of a common body politic.”
III. Platinum Jubilee Souvenir Book
“In these 70 years of my Imamat men’s material condition has totally changed. There has been an immense increase in power over nature but, as we see, with strifes everywhere spiritual power has not increased. It is my hope that my spiritual children, the Ismailis, will, by example of their own higher enlightenment and helpful co-operative movement amongst themselves, set to the world an example of better fraternity and brotherhood which alone can free men from the fear and dangers of moral and mental discord which leads to disaster for all.”
Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam
I: Kampala, Uganda, Takhtnashini, October 25, 1957
“One event which I witnessed was a boxing match between two Ismaili boys – one African, one Asian. I saw a good fight and, at the end, I think each of them thought he had won….At the end of this sporting event, the two boys shook hands and stood together to be photographed. To me this symbolised the partnership between different races which I am convinced is the only condition of peace and prosperity….I most strongly urge the Ismaili community to work hand in hand with all other citizens,”
II: Mumbai, India, Takhtnashini, March 11, 1958
“With humility, tolerance and respect for each other, by honest work and straight dealings, you will earn the true friendship of your fellows…By the way you conduct your daily lives, by the compassion you show to your fellow men and women, and above all by your faith in God – you will ultimately be judged.”
III. Oslo, Norway, April 7, 2005
“The effective world of the future will be one of pluralism, a world that understands, appreciates and builds on diversity. The rejection of pluralism plays a significant role in breeding destructive conflicts, from which no continent has been spared in recent decades. But pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by governments and all of civil society in recognising and celebrating the diversity of the world’s peoples.”
IV. Ottawa, Canada, February 27, 20014
“…As you build your lives, for yourselves and others, you will come to rest upon certain principles. Central to my life has been a verse in the Holy Qur’an which addresses itself to the whole of humanity. It says: “Oh Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women. I know of no more beautiful expression about the unity of our human race — born indeed from a single soul.”
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
(1933 – 2003)
The Times of London, November 1977
“My father abhorred injustice and fought actively for both human and civil rights at a time when it was hardly a fashionable pursuit. He resigned from the exclusive St. Cloud golf club near Paris when some members objected to Sugar Ray Robinson – the black boxer – playing on the links. In Aix-Les-Bains, one day, he rebuffed the pompous head waiter of the hotel Splendide who refused to seat a large group of Senegalese students and promptly invited them to a three star lunch.”
Date posted: June 24, 2020.
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