Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III

Life - An Exalted Destiny - Aga Khan III Life is a great and noble calling; not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can, but a lofty and exalted destiny.

Aga Khan, speaking at Brown, sees virtue in social media, Internet — Providence Journal


The Aga Khan and Brown University President Christina Paxson in Conversation

March 10, 2014 11:20 PM

The Aga Khan answers questions from Brown University President Christina Paxson after addressing a full house at the Salomon Center at Brown as part of the Stephen A. Ogden Jr., Memorial Lecture on International Affairs program.
Kris Craig/The Providence Journal
The Aga Khan answers questions from Brown University President Christina Paxson after addressing a full house at the Salomon Center at Brown as part of the Stephen A. Ogden Jr., Memorial Lecture on International Affairs program.
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PROVIDENCE — Speaking at Brown University on Monday, the Aga Khan — the spiritual leader for some 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide — focused on the potential of social media and Internet-based technology to bridge cultural divisions.


But the 77-year-old Harvard graduate, whose appearance was part of the university’s 250th anniversary celebration this month, also warned of how that technology can shield people from how complex the world really is.


“More information at our fingertips can mean more knowledge and understanding, but it can also mean more fleeting attention spans, more impulsive judgments and more superficial snapshots of events,” said the Aga Khan, whose given name is Prince Karim Al Husseini. “Our world grows more complex, but too often the temptation is to shield [ourselves] from complexity.”


Addressing what some have referred to as the “inevitable clash” between the Muslim world and the industrialized West, the Aga Khan, who is believed to be a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed, argued that there is “much more in harmony” between the two cultures.


Centuries ago, he said, Islamic culture flourished because of its “inclusiveness,” with “great Muslim centers of learning” bringing together people from different cultures to enrich mankind’s understanding of the world.


“What the West has seen of the Muslim world has been through a media lens of instability and confrontation. What is highly abnormal in the Islamic world often gets mistaken for what is normal,” the Aga Khan said. “That is all the more reason for us to work from all directions to replace fearful ignorance with empathetic knowledge.”


On the continued tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims — Islam’s two major sects — he called for a “thoughtful, renewed emphasis” on “pluralism” and “civil society.”


“Does the Holy Koran not say that mankind is descended from a single soul?” said the Aga Khan, who is the 49th imam, or spiritual leader for Ismaili Muslims, a branch of Shia Islam. “In an increasingly cosmopolitan world, it is essential that we live by a cosmopolitan ethic, one that honors human rights and social duties [and] advances personal freedom.”


Born in Switzerland and currently living in Europe, the Aga Khan is also chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a nonprofit development organization he founded in 1981.


In his prepared remarks and a question-and-answer session with Brown University President Christina Paxson, he highlighted that organization’s work in the areas of health care and education in Africa and Asia.


The Aga Khan said universities and non-governmental institutions like his must continue to be agents for change in the developing world.


“The success of democracy will require more than democratic governments,” he said. “In places where people live in fear, they can be voices of hope.”


The message resonated with a number of those in attendance Monday.


“There was just so much in there about Brown and the role these top Western universities should play in development,” said Aarish Rojiani, a high school senior from Georgia who attended with his family and was among many Shia Ismaili Muslims in the packed auditorium. “It was a great point to make at a place like this.”


Tahira Dosani, a Brown graduate who lives in Washington, D.C., said she was impressed by the Aga Khan’s remarks about technology: “He said global connectivity doesn’t necessarily mean more connection. I think that was powerful.”


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Quran, 13:28

ألا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Verily! In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” - Quran, 13:28

Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad:

‘Ali is ‘as my own soul’ (ka-nafsi).

He said to ‘Ali, ‘You are from me and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.’

Hazrat Ali

12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.

13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.

Imam Ali Sayings

Imam Jaffer Sadiq

لاَ يَكُونُ شَيْءٌ فِي اْلاَرْضِ وَلا فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلاَّ بِهذِهِ الْخِصَالِ السَّبْعِ: بِمَشيئَةٍ وَ إِرادَةٍ وَقَدَرٍ وَقَضَاءٍ وَ إِذْنٍ وَكِتابٍ وَأَجَلٍ. فَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يَقْدِرُ عَلى نَقْضٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

“Nothing occurs in this earth and in the heaven except with the following seven stages: Will, intention, destiny, decree, permission, book and implementation. Then whoever thinks that he can reduce any of these stages, then indeed he has disbelieved.”

- Imam Jaffer Sadiq, Usul al Kafi, vol. 1, p. 149

Rumi on Ramadan

The month of fasting has come, the emperor’s banner has arrived; withhold your hand from food, the spirit’s table has arrived. The soul has escaped from separation and bound nature’s hands; the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has arrived. Fasting is our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest. Fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived. …Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.


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Aga Khan jokes

Aga Khan Speech Brown University May 1996:

"Looking around this colorful gathering, I recall helping in the choice of the Aga Khan University's regalia. Our research into Islamic traditions of academic dress revealed that an academic's rank determined the height of his hat. The higher the rank, the taller the hat. The senior most professors therefore appeared taller than their students even when sitting down. I have just learnt that my friend Neil Rudenstein, the President of Harvard has given instructions that all Harvard hats are to be heightened by at least a foot. This has caused havoc in the Ivy League which is now debating resolution MAHH96, standing for Maximum Allowable Hat Height. My academic standing and that of President Gregorian, should be evident from the hats that we are presently wearing!"

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