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What can you write about him whose activities and life are described as "indefatigable" by a French news magazine and when he is not personally taking care of those activities, he sends members of his family (his Uncle Prince Sadruddin, his brother Prince Amyn, his children, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Prince Hussain) for that work! And all the while conducting his duties as the Imam's office demands.
It is quite a challenge to keep up with reporting his activities that I come to find out by scouring the web and emails from friends, but just imagine having to live that life and making all those public appearances and preparing those speeches, let alone giving them? On the occasion of his birthday, I'll just recap what he did in the past year and you all be the judge. I thought Mowlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, his grandfather, who, by the way, was also the founder of the United Nations, had a busy life, but I can see this trend running in the family -- to bring about peace to the world, not only by their involvement in society and using all the resources and connections at their disposal, to make this world a better place to live for everyone but reminding us of our spiritual nature and nurturing that connection with the Almighty.
Even though the detailed activities of his past year are outlined in the What's New Page, I thought I'd highlight what the main activities (that came to my attention) were here:
In January 1998, the Noorani family gathered in the U.K. where Prince Sadruddin's art collection was debuted at the British Museum. (The link at the British Museum is no longer active) Thereafter, Mowlana Hazar Imam visited the Institute of Ismaili Studies to check on the progress they have been making.
In February, Mowlana Hazar Imam was one of the world's religious leaders at the World Bank conference in England for two days of talks. While you are at the World Bank Site, check out the activities that are impacted by His Highness the Aga Khan or one of his institutions. I found about 2,500 pages, too many to go through.
In March, Mowlana Hazar Imam visited Ivory Coast for a State Visit
In April, Princess Zahra came to Houston for the Partnership Walk
In May, Mowlana Hazar Imam got married to Begum Inaara, Mashallah!
In June, he met President Askar Akayev and Prime Minister Kubanychbek Jumaliev to discuss a program of tourism development in the Osh and Issyk-Kul regions of Kyrgyzstan.
In July, we celebrated his 41st year to accession of the Imamat and Mowlana Hazar Imam inaugurated the Centro Ismaili in Lisbon Portugal.
In August, Mowlana Hazar Imam visited Mozambique on a State Visit and met President Chissano and Nelson Mandela to forward an agreement on development cooperation and foreign investment. He was interviewed by Mildred Schmertz on August 25, 1998. That same month Princess Zahra was one of the speakers at the IAVE Conference in Canada
In September, he revisited Tajikistan after three years to establish peace in the region and discuss economic projects. "President Emomali Rakhmonov awarded the high guest with the Order of Friendship." (Ittar-Tass Sep 22, 1998) He gave Deedar to the Muslim population there.
In October, a grand wedding reception was held at Aiglemont. Prince Sadruddin's article was featured in Newsweek Magazine. That month, Mowlana Hazar Imam was presentated the Granada de Oro by the Mayor of Granada, and the Awards of the Aga Khan Architecture Award took place in the presence of the King and Queen Juan Carlos of Spain.
In November, Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Inaara were present at the unveiling of the Winston Churchill statue in France and were among the British and French dignitaries and visited the Far East, for which I don't have published news...
Well, here it is early December and almost three in the morning. I wish I could have seen his itinerary for this past year as I'm sure I don't have all his travels and engagements covered and that is why, I am especially charged to wish him a very happy birthday and may he live long to fulfill the challenge which Mowlana Sultan Mahomed Shah bequethed in his will: (then click on Message to the World of Islam)And so in my testament I should say to the rulers of the earth. Prove yourselves: Prove that you are worth having: give the world peace!His Highness the Aga Khan
His Highness the Aga Khan became Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. He is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through his cousin and son-in-law, (Hazrat) Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatima, the Prophet's daughter.
Son of Prince Aly Khan and Princess Tajuddawlah Aly Khan, the Aga Khan was born on December 13, 1936,
in Geneva. He spent his early childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, and then attended Le Rosey School in Switzerland for nine years. He graduated from Harvard University in 1959 with a BA Honors Degree in Islamic history.
Like his grandfather Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan before him, the Aga Khan has, since assuming the office of Imamat in 1957, been concerned about the well-being of all Muslims, particularly in the face of
the challenges of rapid historical changes. Today, the Ismailis live in some 25 countries, mainly in West and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as in North America and Western Europe. Over the four decades since the present Aga Khan became Imam, there have been major political and economic changes in most of these areas. He has adapted the complex system of administering the Ismaili Community, pioneered by his grandfather during the colonial era, to a new world of nation-states, which even recently has grown in size and complexity following the newly acquired independence of the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union.
The Aga Khan has emphasised the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith: one that teaches compassion and tolerance and that upholds the dignity of man, Allah's noblest creation. In the Shia tradition of Islam, it is
the mandate of the Imam of the time to safeguard the individual's right to personal intellectual search and to give practical expression to the ethical vision of society that the Islamic message inspires. Addressing as
Chairman, the International Conference on the Example (Seerat) of the Prophet Muhammad in Karachi in 1976, the Aga Khan said that the wisdom of Allah's final Prophet in seeking new solutions for problems which could not be solved by traditional methods, provides the inspiration for Muslims to conceive a truly modern and dynamic society, without affecting the fundamental concepts of Islam.
During the course of history, the Ismailis have, under the guidance of their Imams, made major contributions to the growth of Islamic civilisation. The University of al-Azhar and the Academy of Science, Dar al-Ilm, in Egypt and indeed the city of Cairo itself, exemplify their contributions to the cultural, religious and intellectual life of Muslims. Among the renowned philosophers, jurists, physicians, mathematicians, astronomers and scientists of the past who flourished under the patronage of Ismaili Imams are Qadi al-Numan, al-Kirmani, Ibn al-Haytham (al-Hazen), Nasir-i Khusraw and Nasir al-Din Tusi.
Achievements of the Fatimid Empire dominate accounts of the early period of Ismaili history, roughly from the beginnings of Islam through the 11th century. Named after the Prophet's daughter Fatima, the Fatimid dynasty created a state that stimulated the development of art, science, and trade in the Mediterranean Near East over two centuries. Its centre was Cairo, founded by the Fatimids as their capital. Following the Fatimid period, the Ismaili Muslims' geographical centre shifted from Egypt to Syria and Persia. After their centre in Persia, Alamut, fell to Mongol conquerors in the 13th century, Ismailis lived for several centuries in dispersed communities, mainly in Persia and Central Asia but also in Syria, India and elsewhere. In the 1830s, Aga Hassanaly Shah, the 46th Ismaili Imam, was granted the honorary hereditary title of Aga Khan by the Shah of Persia. In 1843, the first Aga Khan left Persia for India, which already had a large Ismaili community. Aga Khan II died in 1885, only four years after assuming the Imamat. He was succeeded by the present Aga Khan's grandfather, and predecessor as Imam, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.
In recent generations, the Aga Khan's family has followed a tradition of service in international affairs. The Aga Khan's grandfather was President of the League of Nations and his father, Prince Aly Khan, was Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations. His uncle, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, has been United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations' Coordinator for assistance to Afghanistan and United Nations' Executive Delegate of the Secretary General for a humanitarian programme for Iraq, Kuwait, Iraq-Iran and Iraq-Turkey border areas. The Aga Khan's brother, Prince Amyn, entered the United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs following his graduation from Harvard in 1965. Since 1968, Prince Amyn has been closely involved with the governance of the principal development institutions of the Imamat. The Aga Khan's eldest child and daughter, Princess Zahra, who graduated from Harvard in 1994 with a BA Honors Degree in Third World Development Studies, has co-ordination responsibilities relating to specific social development institutions of the Imamat and is based at his Secretariat. His elder son, Prince Rahim, who graduated from Brown University (USA) in 1995, has similar responsibilities in respect of the Imamat's economic development institutions. His younger son, Prince Hussain, who graduated from Williams College (USA) in 1997, has recently joined the Secretariat and is involved in the cultural activities of the Network.
In consonance with this vision of Islam and their tradition of service to humanity, wherever Ismailis live, they have elaborated a well defined institutional framework to carry out social, economic and cultural activities.Under the Aga Khan's leadership, this framework has expanded and evolved into the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve living conditions and opportunities in specific regions of the developing world. In every country, these institutions work for the common good of all citizens regardless of their origin or religion. Their individual mandates range from rural development, education and health to the promotion of private sector enterprise and architecture.
The Aga Khan's work in the promotion of excellence and innovation in architecture has received widespread recognition and acclaim. In 1984, the Aga Khan became the 19th recipient of the University of Virginia's Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal in Architecture, awarded in recognition of his work (photo) as a "patron of architectural culture". The same year, he received the American Institute of Architects 1984 Institute Honor for his "unique and inspired contributions to architecture through a number of related programmes. In 1987, he received the Gold Medal of the Higher Council of Spanish Architects from his Majesty King Juan Carlos. In 1991, the Aga Khan was awarded the Médaille d'argent of the Académie d'Architecture of France. The same year, he was also made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In 1996, he was selected as the recipient of the Hadrian Award by the World Monuments Fund in recognition of his contribution to the fields of restoration and conservation of historic buildings.
Interview with The Aga Khan
The Past and Future of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture: Reflections
on the First Twenty Years (His Highness The Aga Khan in conversation
with architectural journalist Mildred F. Schmertz, Paris, August 25, 1998).
- Text source of Profile: Aga Khan Award for Architecture
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