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 Speech at Foundation Ceremony Museum at Humayun’s Tomb

Aga Khan Humayun Museum Foundation Ceremony - Amaana.orgHis Highness the Aga Khan Speech at the Foundation Ceremony of the Museum at Humayun’s Tomb, Dehli, India

April 7, 2015


Honorable Minister of Tourism and Culture Dr. Mahesh Sharma
Secretary Mr. Ravindra Singh
Secretary Dr. Lalit Panwar

You have been most generous with your comments this afternoon and I thank you warmly for the encouragement you have given to the people of the Trust for Culture and myself. And I would like to begin these comments by repeating what I said when the foundation-stone was laid sometime ago of the restoration of the Humayun’s Tomb.

We are a partnership. We are not working alone with the Trust for Culture. We are working in a magnificent partnership between public authority and private initiative.

And if we did not have that support from the government, the Archeological Society and others we could never achieve what we have been able to achieve up to now.

His Excellency the Minister referred to the Taj Mahal. We have learnt in the Trust for Culture to be very humble in front of exceptional historic buildings. I am not sure we would dare touch the Taj Mahal. But if that is what is requested and we can contribute in some way, we will.

Aga Khan, Humayun Museum

Distinguished Guests

I would like to extend to you all my warmest welcome goes out to all of you today – as we share together in this foundation stone ceremony.

Even as I welcome you, I also want to thank you – not only for your presence, but also for the support you have given in so many ways, as partners in this path-breaking restoration project.

Some of you were here – just a year and a half ago – when we inaugurated this Tomb complex. I said that day that “partnership was the watchword” in the work of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture – and for this project in particular. So I welcome you – and I salute you – in that Spirit of Partnership.

This Museum, as you may know, has been designed as a Gateway – a Connecting Point -located at the juncture of three historically connected sites: Humayun’s Tomb and its Gardens, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, and the Sundar Nursery.

Aga Khan and Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Humayun Museum Foundation Ceremony Amaana.orgIn connecting these sites, the Museum will also serve as a bridge between the present and the past – linking the modern city of Delhi to its remarkable heritage – and thus providing a Gateway to a truly extraordinary period of human history.

That remarkable chapter in the human story extended over 170 years – the era of the Mughal empire. It was a time of enormous accomplishment – and enormous significance. Geographically it covered much of what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. In terms of governance, it included hundreds of millions of people, covering an enormous spectrum of religious faiths, cultural practices, and ethnic identities.

It was led by men whose talents in statehood and in military affairs were remarkable – and their impact was felt in virtually every dimension of human existence, both within the empire and outside. Many of the Mughal rulers, perhaps most of them, were also exceptional leaders in the acumen and insight which they brought to their leadership roles. They were statesmen who would have excelled in any time.

Consider, for example, Humayun himself, who governed an area of one million square kilometers – and who was remembered as much for his peaceful and forgiving temperament as for his military conquests. His rhetoric was said to be non-provocative, his style that of a diplomat. And it was these qualities that were inherited by his son, the Emperor Akbar, who further broadened the Empire – and who strengthened it through a policy of universal tolerance – one that welcomed the vast diversity of his many subjects.

So to use a well-worn but well-considered phrase, it “staggers the imagination” to think of what was created here during the Mughal period, on a scale and with a splendor that had not existed before. And its accomplishments have continued to inspire subsequent generations.

Through the centuries, millions of people have made their way here. They have come to see these architectural achievements – the oldest and largest Indo-Islamic architectural complex. They have come to admire the decorative genius that we have around us – and to think about its continuing influence in contemporary life.. They have come to enjoy the green spaces that are such an essential part of this complex – reflecting the profound harmony that can ideally unite our natural and our built environments.

And now, as a new Museum is born on this site, visitors will be able to learn in greater depth why these legacies were built, how they served the court and society more generally, and what they have meant since.

They will also be able to share in the lessons that have been learned as these sites have been restored – in ways that have enhanced the social and economic life of the surrounding communities. New jobs have been created, new skills have been mastered, new commercial opportunities have been opened, and new environmental protections have been fostered.

I would mention here, as one example, the lessons we have learned about urban green spaces – which too often have been seen as unproductive areas, at best, and even as financial liabilities. But the experience of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has been very, very different. In places as varied as Cairo and Kabul, and now here in Delhi, green spaces have generated enough income not only to cover their maintenance costs, but also to drive a broad range of further developments – while immensely enriching the quality of urban life.

In these and many other ways, the valuable lessons that have been learned here will make this space a model for other cultural sites around the world.

And so it is that we express our gratitude to The Ministry of Tourism, and to all the other partners who have joined with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in this important work. We are deeply thankful for the opportunity we have been given by the Government of India to participate in the revival of 170 years of unique human history here in India.

And again, we thank you for celebrating with us today the legacy of a distinguished past – and its potential to enrich our future.

Thank you.

Source: AKDN

Video: Humayun’s Tomb – Reviving History, Rebuilding Lives : Aga Khan Trust for Culture

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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 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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