In London Conference, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Calls for ‘Islands of Stability’ in War-Torn Syria

In remarks made at an International Conference under the theme “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference”, in London, England, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, today called for the establishment of ‘islands of stability’ in war-ravaged Syria that could provide areas of relative safety in the midst of conflict. The conference, co-hosted by Germany, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United Nations. was attended by representatives from sixty countries, including 30 world leaders.

“The situation in Syria is a close to hell as we are likely to find on this earth,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Referring to the Geneva meeting between the Syrian Government and the opposition parties that had broken down just a day earlier, he said the talks were “undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombings and military activities within Syria”. He urged the warring sides to “get back to the table, not to secure more gains on the battlefields”.

Aga Khan 2016 Support Syria Conference London

Deploring the devastation in war-ravaged Syria, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, called for the establishment of “islands of stability” to provide areas of relative safety in the midst of conflict. The 49th Shia Ismaili Imam, pledged $200 million towards achieving peace, stability, and reconstruction in the country.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that “if ever there was a moment to take a new approach to the humanitarian crisis in Syria surely it is now,” mentioning the huge number of Syrians who “fear they have no alternative than to put their lives in the hands of evil-people smugglers in search of a future”.

The following are the transcript and video of the remarks made by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference.

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Co-hosts of the Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the co-hosts for organising this much-needed initiative to deepen the understanding of, and garner international support for the peoples of Syria, Alongside all those present here today, I am deeply distressed over the indiscriminate and widespread devastation of life and property, including that of irreplaceable cultural assets which are the manifestation of Syria’s stunningly rich pluralistic history.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which is the Ismaili Imamat’s global agency for supporting development, is fully engaged with the peace process under UN leadership, and is firmly committed to helping build a Syria that continues to respect pluralism, remains secular, and embarks on a political process led by Syrians.

AKDN’s development and humanitarian work in Syria began many years before the war. In the present situation, we have committed resources and efforts to ensure that Internally Displaced People receive humanitarian assistance, and are supported to sustain their livelihoods. We are taking two approaches:

First, we are supporting local community leaders, teachers, doctors, engineers and others to foster stability, protecting their families and their communities. We are thus building and strengthening civil society to take as much responsibility as possible for their own future.

Second, we are investing in communities, by supporting agriculture, income generation, early childhood education, schools, and hospitals. We also provide vocational training to create skills. Our goal is to sustain hope.

We aim to meet the urgent needs of the present, but where also possible to protect and strengthen the foundations for the future. We seek to create “islands of stability”, where there is public consensus, in the face of war. It is my conviction that “islands of stability” can be replicated wherever security permits. Investing in them will help prevent displacement of people and anchor communities that would otherwise flee as refugees.

Since the onset of conflict in 2011, AKDN has dedicated $50 million towards these endeavours in Syria and is now committing to increasing this investment to $200 million over the next four years. Our efforts will expand to wider areas of the country. Our goal is peace, stability, and reconstruction.

Thank you.

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Date posted: February 4, 2016.

The Imam, “A Cosmic Necessity,” and Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is the “Living, Hereditary Imam in Direct Descent from the Prophet”

QUOTES

1. IMAM – A COSMIC NECESSITY

Imam is the Threshold through which God and the creatures communicate; Imam is a Cosmic Necessity and the earth cannot be devoid of an Imam – without an Imam the earth and the universe would crumble; The Imam is the Proof, the Manifestation and the Organ of God and he is the Means by which human beings can attain the knowledge of God — Excerpt from The Divine Guide in Early Shi’ism by Mohamad Ali Amir-Moezzi, pp 125-131, SUNY, 1994.

2. THE ROLE OF MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM

Historically and in accordance with Ismaili tradition, the Imam of the time is concerned with spiritual advancement as well as improvement of the quality of life of his murids. The imam’s ta‘lim lights the murid’s path to spiritual enlightenment and vision. In temporal matters, the Imam guides the murids, and motivates them to develop their potential…..Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims….Clauses (F) and (G) of the Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution ordained in 1986 [1].

3. HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN: THE LIVING IMAM

The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself. [2] The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet…today the Ismailis are the only Shia community who, throughout history, have been led by a living, hereditary Imam in direct descent from the Prophet. [3]

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READINGS

1. THE NUR (LIGHT) OF IMAMAT

What is this special light that Allah refers to [in Holy Qur’an 4:174], which guides and makes things clear? For Shia Muslims, this light is the Light of Imamat. The Shias refer to it as the Nur of Imamat. Nur means light. The Nur of Imamat is a spiritual light….Click to read more

2. LOVE FOR THE IMAM

“Say (O Muhammad): No reward do I ask (for my favours) except your love for my kith and kin” – Holy Qur’an, 42:23

“He who loves us will be with us on the Day of Judgement” – Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq….Click to read more

3. THE FORMULATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF IMAMAT

Like his father and grandfather before him, Imam Ja’far remained politically quiescent and inactive…..it was in this period of political inactivity – to an extent – that the main religious ideas and doctrinal formation of Imamate concepts really crystallised….Click to read more

4. THE TERM IMAM IN THE HOLY QUR’AN

The term Imam is used seven times in the singular and five times in the plural form in the Holy Qur’an. It is not, however, used in the same sense every time. The different shades of meaning which it indicates therefore needs to be analysed….Click to read more

5. THE DOCTRINE OF IMAMAT DURING THE FATIMID PERIOD

The central doctrine of the Ismaili community has always been the doctrine of Imamat because around it are built all the goals of the community and the roles of the dais, but this doctrine is also not rigid, it has been evolving, particularly in the writings and preachings of the dais….Click to read more

6. IMAMAT IN ISMAILI GINANIC LITERATURE

According to the Ginans the Imam is the source of Guidance for mankind. He shows them the right path, saves the people from ignorance and acts as a Divine Light in the darkness….Click to read more

Date posted: Saturday, January 23, 2013 (this is a slightly updated version of a previous post).

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Reference:

[1] The Preamble of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”

[2] Voices: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale (English translation)

[3] In a Dynamic and Stirring Address to Members of the Canadian Parliament, His Highness the Aga Khan Shares His Faith Perspectives on the Imamat, Collaboration with Canada, the Muslim World Community (the Ummah), the Nurturing of Civil Society, Early Childhood Education, Voluntary Work, and the Unity of the Human Race

Coming Soon: An Exclusive Collection of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Photos Captured by “Papa Jan” in Hunza and East Africa

A note to our readers: Publication of new pieces on Simerg and Simergphotos will resume after February 2, 2016.

Hunza Volunteers

Lady Volunteers of Hunza outside the bangalow of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

Readers of http://www.simergphotos.com, the sister publication of this literary website, will later this week have a chance to view a collection of photos of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, that were captured in Hunza and East Africa some 55 years ago by the late Abdul Mohamed Ismaily, lovingly known as “Papa Jan.” Never seen previously, this exclusive collection of historical photos is being published with the permission of the late photographer’s family in a multi-part series which will commence in February with photos taken in Hunza, Pakistan. Two photos from “Papa Jan’s” vast collection are shown here in this introductory post. Please watch out for this new special series. In the meantime, we warmly invite you to visit http://www.simergphotos.com to view a few of the 101 photo essays that have appeared on the photo blog since the autumn of 2012. For example:

Please click on photo for enlargement

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, signing an autograph for Roshan Dhanani, Kampala.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, signing an autograph for Roshan Dhanani, Kampala.

Date posted: January 11, 2015.
Last updated: January 31, 2015 (revised publication date, re: Hunza photos)

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Passings: Salim-el-azhar Ebrahim

“Throw my ashes
where you will
but lest you err
know this
I want children’s laughter
in my dead ears”
 (Salim Ebrahim, from Epigrams I)

Salim-el-azhar Ebrahim

Salim e-a Ebrahim

It is with deep sadness that we announce the recent passing in Pakistan of Mr. Salim-el-azhar Ebrahim, an epigrammatist, poet, essayist and a friend to Simerg. A prolific and fearless writer, he was the author of Reason! The Measure of Thought, a collection of 500 original epigrams as well as The Hourglass and the Pen – the Measures of Thought, a short booklet of original epigrams and poems, which is now out of print.

Excellence is a never ending journey to understand one’s own hazy and even
fearsome areas of the mind: needs, wants, desires, greed, jealousy, anger,
revenge, power, status, pride, arrogance, intolerance, rigidity, tyranny, violence
and battering, cruelty, sadism and masochism, lying, cheating, hypocrisy – and
the rectifying of those parts of the mind in both thought and action —
Salim e-a Ebrahim from Dialog…, see link below.

We pray that Mr. Salim Ebrahim’s soul may rest in eternal peace. We also convey our heartfelt condolences to all his family members and friends around the world.

We honour Mr. Ebrahim by providing links to numerous pieces that he contributed to this website. His comments and contributions in the formative months of this website encouraged us to create a special category for poetry.

Date posted: January 10, 2016.

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We invite your tributes and reactions to this sad loss. Please click Leave a comment.

If you wish to contribute an obituary or pay a tribute in the loving memory of deceased member(s) in your family who passed away recently or in the past, please visit Passings.

Simergphotos: Tajikistan Landscapes Through the Lens of Muslim Harji

“The Qur’an refers very often to nature as a reflection of Allah’s power of creation, and it says, look at the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the flowers, as evidence of Allah’s love for the people whom He has created. Today, I look at the environment and I say to you, I believe Allah is smiling upon you, and may His smile always be upon you.” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, Badakhshan, 1995.

PLEASE CLICK: Photo Essay: Tajikistan Landscapes Through the Lens of Muslim Harji

Please click on image for Tajikistan Landscapes.

Please click on image for Tajikistan Landscapes.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Pope Benedict XVI: A Very Special Photo of Two Faith Leaders Meeting Each Other at the Institut De France in Paris

PREPARED AND COMPILED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor http://www.simerg.com and http://www.simergphotos.com)

As part of his famous Apostolic Journey to France in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI, on September 13, paid a visit to the “Institut De France” in Paris. The Pope, who had been elected as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005, was presented with a gold medal by the Institut, and also unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit. During his very brief remarks to the audience, the Pope expressed his gratitude to the Institut “both personally and as the successor of [Simon] Peter.”

His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, was also in attendance at the Institut de France as the Associate Foreign Member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts), one of five learned societies within the Institut which was founded in 1795.

Everyone’s attention in the hall was drawn to Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Pope, with an extraordinary sense of interest and keenness, as the two faith leaders greeted each other with a handshake. Simerg is pleased to present this licensed copyright photo with permission from Getty Images.

Pope Benedict XVI is seen greeting His Highness the Aga Khan on September 13 at the Institut de France in Paris during an official visit to France in 2008. Photo: Copyright. Getty Images. Published on Simerg/Simergphotos with a Licencing arrangement with Getty Images. Fench caption: Vue plongeante du pape BENOIT XVI serrant la main de l'AGA KHAN à son arrivée sous la coupole de l'Institut de France à PARIS entouré de nombreux académiciens et autres personnalités dont Gabriel DE BROGLIE, Hélène CARRERE D'ENCAUSSE, Jean-François JARRIGE, Jean-François BACH, Arnaud D'HAUTERIVES, Michel ALBERT, Christian PONCELET président du Sénat, Jean TULARD, Alain DECAUX, Pierre-Jean REMY, Michel MOHRT, Max GALLO, le cardinal André VINGT-TROIS archevêque de Paris et le cardinal Paul POUPARD. (Photo by Philippe Petit/Paris Match via Getty Images)

Everyone’s attention is drawn to Pope Benedict XVI and His Highness the Aga Khan as they greet each other on September 13, at the Institut de France in Paris during an official visit by the Pope to France in 2008. Photo: Copyright. Getty Images. Published on Simerg/Simergphotos with a Licensing arrangement with Getty Images. Fench caption: Vue plongeante du pape BENOIT XVI serrant la main de l’AGA KHAN à son arrive sous la coupole de l’Institut de France à PARIS entouré de nombreux académiciens et autres personnalités dont Gabriel DE BROGLIE, Hélène CARRERE D’ENCAUSSE, Jean-François JARRIGE, Jean-François BACH, Arnaud D’HAUTERIVES, Michel ALBERT, Christian PONCELET président du Sénat, Jean TULARD, Alain DECAUX, Pierre-Jean REMY, Michel MOHRT, Max GALLO, le cardinal André VINGT-TROIS archevêque de Paris et le cardinal Paul POUPARD. (Photo by Philippe Petit/Paris Match via Getty Images).

In 2013, Pope Benedict dramatically resigned his position as the Head of the Catholic Church due to his deteriorating strength, advanced age and the heavy demands of being Pope, and retired at the Mater Ecclesiae, a small monastery located inside the Vatican State City. His present successor is Pope Francis I, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

SOME BRIEF NOTES ON THE PAPACY AND THE IMAMAT, AND SIMON PETER IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC AND ISMAILI TRADITIONS

The Catholics adhere to the belief that the Pope is a successor of St. Peter. The Ismailis regard their 49th hereditary Imam as the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s.). In a speech made at the Canadian Parliament in 2014, the Aga Khan declared that “the Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet.” And, in an interview with Politique International he said, “The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself.”

In the Catholic tradition, the foundation for the office of the Pope is found primarily in Matthew, where Jesus is quoted as telling Simon Peter:

“You are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

This series of successions of the Pope is known as “Apostolic Succession,” with the line of Bishops stretching back to the apostles, who lived during the time of Jesus. Simon Peter is recognized as having been the first Pope. Early Christians reserved the title of “Pope” for St. Peter’s successors.

However, in branches of Shia theology as well as Ismailism, Simon Peter’s role is seen as the direct parallel to that of Hazrat Ali as the first Imam. Ismailis along with some other Shia groups maintain that every major Prophet had a spiritual legatee (Waṣi) or successor called the Asas (foundation) who taught the inner meaning to those who had the capacity to understand it. In this regard, Adam had Seth; Noah had Shem; Moses had Aaron, and Jesus had Simon Peter. A well known sacred tradition of the Prophet Muhammad says that “Ali is to me as Aaron was to Moses,” confirming that Ali held the same level of authority as Aaron did.

Date posted: December 31, 2015.
Last updated: January 1, 2015.

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We welcome your feedback, please click Leave a comment or send it to simerg@aol.com, subject: Aga Khan and Pope.  Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

The following were used as references for the compilation of this piece:

  1. Apostolic Journey to France: Greeting by the Holy Father during the visit at the Institut de France (September 13, 2008)
  2. The Popes: From St. Peter to Pope Frances by Rupert Matthews,  2014 Edition published by arrangement with Moseley Road Inc.
  3. http://www.catholic-pages.com/pope/peter.asp
  4. Peter in Islam, at Wikipedia.
  5. Comparing the Imamat and the Papacy: Some Short Notes (at Ismailignosis.com).
  6. The Delegation Decoded – An Esoteric Exegesis of the Delegation of the Isma‘ili Imamat, by Khalil Andani.
  7. Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, C. Glasse.
  8. Voices: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale (English translation)
  9. In a Dynamic and Stirring Address to Members of the Canadian Parliament, His Highness the Aga Khan Shares His Faith Perspectives on the Imamat, Collaboration with Canada, the Muslim World Community (the Ummah), the Nurturing of Civil Society, Early Childhood Education, Voluntary Work, and the Unity of the Human Race

Also see the following important features to learn more about the Aga Khan and the Ismaili Imamat:

in which His Highness the Aga Khan responded to Pope Benedict’s controversial remarks concerning Islam that he had made in 2006; and Special Series: Ismaili Expressions on the Imamat and Imam of the Time — (I) The Preamble of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

Aga Khan’s Speeches in the UK and USA Tell Marvellous Stories About Cairo’s Al-Azhar Park and Convey Profound Messages of Our Common Humanity

PLEASE CLICK: His Highness the Aga Khan’s 2015 Speeches in the UK and USA Tell Stories About the Al-Azhar Park and Convey a Profound Message of Our Common Humanity

Aga Khan Mawlana Hazar Imam 2015 VisitsPlease click on image for His Highness the Aga Khan 2015 Visits to UK and the USA