Aga Khan Marks His Golden
Aga Khan delivers his address
France: His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the
Shia Ismaili Muslims, has committed himself to support democratic
processes, to find means to help the ultra-poor, and to address
political and theological tensions through consensus amongst
The Aga Khan was speaking at a ceremony that marked the 50th
anniversary of his accession to the Ismaili Imamat. He succeeded
his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan as the 49th
hereditary Imam on 11th July 1957. The colorful ceremony was
attended by over 250 leaders from the Ismaili community from
some 25 countries.
Speaking about the development of the various institutions
that constitute the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), one
of the largest not-for-profit development networks in the
world, the Aga Khan said he had been most fortunate in having
the support of wise men and women from the Ismaili communities
throughout the world whose honorary service was a continuum
of the magnificent, timeless tradition of service.
Reflecting on the changes that have taken place since he assumed
the Imamat, and to which the Ismaili community had to respond,
the Aga Khan mentioned de-colonization, the cold war, the
fall of communism and effects of globalization worldwide.
He expressed the hope that his Golden Jubilee will enable
the institutions and activities of the AKDN to strengthen
and consolidate themselves, in order to assist in the various
countries where the Ismaili community is settled and that
these institutions would create opportunities for future generations.
The Aga Khan highlighted the value of civil society and how
its effectiveness could contribute towards better processes
of democratic government. In many countries of Asia and Africa,
the Aga Khan said, “Democracy is young and still relatively
ineffective in support of modern development activities. While
a strong civil society can and does help to counter-balance
such ineffectiveness, the processes of democratic government
must also receive more attention and support”.
The Aga Khan thanked the Ismaili community for the generosity
and support over the past 50 years that helped him turn a
system of local projects, into one of the world’s largest
private development networks that serves people of all faiths.
Turning to the present global conflictual situations that
are depicted as opposing Islam and the West, the Aga Khan
emphasized that Muslims themselves would be the best suited
to address some of the issues facing them in the modern context.
He called for the revitalization of the essential values of
Islam which he felt could only be done through greater collaboration
among different interpretations of the faith.
“Political situations with a theological overlay are
causing disaffection or antagonism between communities of
the same faith, and even more so amongst different faiths,”
said the Aga Khan. “At the center of this turbulence
is Islam. We cannot let this continue. On the other hand,
the sheer scale of the problem, added to its complexity, make
it an issue which the Ummah in its entirety can better address,
rather than individual schools of interpretation within it.”
The Aga Khan leads a community of 12-15 million Ismaili Muslims
living in some 25 countries, mainly in Asia, Africa, the Middle
East, Europe and North America. He is founder and chairman
of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of nine
agencies with mandates ranging from health and education to
architecture , micro-finance, disaster reduction, rural development,
and the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalization
of historic cities – all of which are catalysts for
development. Guided by the Islamic ethic of compassion for
those less fortunate, the AKDN works for the common good of
all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion.
For more information, please contact:
Department of Communications
Sec re tariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Tel: (+33 3) 44 58 40 00
Fax: (+33 3) 44 58 42 79