A Simerg Brief: “I Absolutely Admire the Aga Khan” — Howard Shearer

Howard Shearer

Howard Shearer

Highly accomplished, Jamaican born Howard Shearer served as a member of McMaster University’s Board of Governors while heading Hitachi Canada Ltd. as its President and CEO. In an interview with the University’s McMaster Times for its 2008 Winter/Spring edition, Mr. Shearer talked about “Leading by a Moral Compass” that readers of this website will find interesting.

When asked, “What living person do you most admire?”, Howard Shearer replied:

His Highness the Aga Khan

His Highness the Aga Khan

“I have to say my mother. She dared us to imagine what is possible. That’s crucial. I absolutely admire the Aga Khan. He established a moral compass in terms of his teaching and his commitment to social responsibility – for contributing to society.”

As for his motto, Shearer explains, “Carpe diem. The opportunity to do something always exists today. I encourage people to make every effort to seize the opportunities that are in front of them and not to wait until tomorrow, because tomorrow will bring its own opportunities.”

To read Mr. Shearer’s inspiring interview, please click: Leading by a moral compass, and scroll to page 16.

Date posted: Monday, March 23, 2015.

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Voices of Graduates: The Magnificent Aga Khan University Convocations in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-es-Salaam

….The guiding rope
That God has cast
We hold fast to it
The pendulum moves

We Appreciate…Read More

PLEASE CLICK: “We Appreciate” – Poem and Voices from the Aga Khan University East Africa Convocations: Graduates and Families Speak About Hopes and Express Gratitude to University’s Founder, His Highness the Aga Khan
Dar-es-Salaam Procession

Simerg Profiles His Excellency Gordon Campbell, Canada’s Representative to the Ismaili Imamat

Mawlana Hazar Imam receives His Excellency Gordon Campbell at Aiglemont. Left to right: Malik Talib; Rouben Khatchadourian, Prince Rahim, HE Gordon Campbell, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Dr Mahmoud Eboo, and Dr Shafik Sachedina. AKDN / Cécile Genest

Mawlana Hazar Imam receives His Excellency Gordon Campbell at Aiglemont on March 4, 2015. Left to right: Malik Talib; Rouben Khatchadourian, Prince Rahim, HE Gordon Campbell, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Dr Mahmoud Eboo, and Dr Shafik Sachedina. AKDN/Cécile Genest

Mawlana Hazar Imam received His Excellency Gordon Campbell, Canada’s Representative to the Ismaili Imamat, at Aiglemont, France, on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

Recently appointed to this role by the Government of Canada, Gordon Campbell has also been serving as Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom since September 2011. Prior to his appointment, Mr Campbell served three terms as Premier of the province of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011, during which time he was ranked best fiscal manager among Canadian premiers by the Fraser Institute.

Joining Mawlana Hazar Imam and Mr. Campbell at the meeting were Prince Rahim, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Personal Representative to Canada; Dr Mahmoud Eboo, Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in Canada; Malik Talib, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada; Rouben Khatchadourian, Political Counsellor at the Canadian High Commission to the UK; and Dr Shafik Sachedina, Head of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs at Hazar Imam’s Secretariat.

Mawlana Hazar Imam at a luncheon hosted by Premier Gordon Campbell that was attended by community, education and business leaders in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee visit to British Columbia. Gary Otte

Mawlana Hazar Imam at a luncheon hosted by Premier Gordon Campbell that was attended by community, education and business leaders in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit to British Columbia in 2008. Photo: The Ismaili/Gary Otte.

In 2008, Mr. Campbell as BC’s Premier hosted a luncheon in Mawlana Hazar Imam’s honour for the Golden Jubilee visit to the Province. At the event, Mawlana Hazar Imam signed his book Where Hope Takes Root for the Premier. Mr. Campbell spoke about the contribution made by the Ismaili community in the Province and across Canada: “It touches us in British Columbia when we go to the Partnership Walk and we see literally thousands and thousands of people, not just Ismaili people, but many, many others as well joining the Ismaili community here. And most importantly, young people, young people who are becoming aware of the fact that we live in a great place and there may be things we can do to help others live in better places around the world. That is your message, and it is a message that is based on not just talking about the opportunities here before us but actually taking steps down that road to hope and to promise that you have talked about so much in the past.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan, signing his book "Where Hope Takes Root" for Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee.  Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun.  Copyright. Please click on photo for book review.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan, signing his book “Where Hope Takes Root” for Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright. Please click on photo for book review.

Mr Campbell, a Vancouver native, studied English and Urban Studies at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and completed his MBA at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He spent two years teaching in Nigeria with the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) where he also coached championship state basketball and track and field teams in addition to launching a major library restoration initiative. After his return to British Columbia, Mr Campbell founded a successful property development firm. He then began his political career in local politics in Vancouver, where he went on to serve as Mayor for three successive terms from 1986 to 1993, and spearheaded key urban regeneration projects and ground-breaking initiatives in literacy and cultural diversity.

As Premier, Mr Campbell was recognized for his leadership on climate change issues and his reconciliation initiatives with Canada’s First Nations.  He was recognized as a champion of Canada’s highly successful 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.  Mr Campbell worked to ensure that the 2010 Olympics were not just about the city of Vancouver, but were a Games that all Canadians could celebrate and call their own.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that Mr. Campbell is being floated as federal Conservative candidate for a new federal riding in Vancouver. Residents are receiving phone calls asking them if they’d vote for the former B.C. premier were he to run for the federal Conservatives in their electoral district.

Date posted: March 5, 2015.
Last updated: March 6, 2015 (typo, Hazar Imam received Gordon Campbell at Aiglemont on March 4, 2015, and not on February 4 as mentioned previously).

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Material compiled from the following sources:

Three Reasons Why Ismailis Are An Exceptional Community in the Islamic Ummah by Mohammed Arkoun

“Coming from Algeria, which is my country, I can tell you that you represent in Muslim world, in Islamic Ummah a very exceptional community, exceptional community for three reasons.” — Professor Arkoun, please click to read article

“Heresiographic literature describes all the sects in Islam from one point of view, the Sunnite point of view, the Shiite point of view, telling that ‘we, we have the truth, and the others don’t have anything’. This is the heresiographic interpretation of Islam which is totally irrelevant for us today.” — Professor Arkoun, please click to read article

PLEASE CLICK: Three Reasons Why Ismailis Are An Exceptional Community in the Islamic Ummah

Please click on image for article.

Please click on image for article.

“The Honourable Task of Caring for the Sick” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Nursing

Aga Khan Dar arrival

Editor’s note: Mawlana Hazar Imam has arrived in East Africa to preside over the Aga Khan University Convocation in Dar-es-Salaam (February 24, 2015), Kampala (February 26) and Nairobi (March 2). We are pleased to publish the following excerpts from his speeches on the profession of nursing.

EXCERPTS FROM MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM’S SPEECHES

I. 1981…Inauguration of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan

Mawlana Hazar Imam  with Pakistan President Zia ul-Haqq at the opening of the School of Nursing in Karachi in 1981. Photo: Christopher Little/25 Years in Pictures, Volume 1, 1983, Islamic Publications, UK.

Mawlana Hazar Imam with Pakistan President Zia ul-Haqq at the opening of the School of Nursing in Karachi in 1981. Photo: Christopher Little/25 Years in Pictures, Volume 1, 1983, Islamic Publications, UK.

“The School of Nursing’s primary mission is to raise the standards and standing of the profession itself, so that it is accorded the recognition and prestige earned and deserved by the women whose working lives are dedicated to the demanding and honourable task of caring for the sick. We are confident that the nurses in our hospital will be rewarded with respect, appreciation and remuneration that their integrity and loyal commitment justify. The key note to the School’s philosophy is excellence.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents diplomas to graduating nurses during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents diplomas to graduating nurses during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

“Let me end by addressing directly the first Aga Khan School of Nursing students. Here today, you like me, are at the beginning. You are starting your chosen professional training. The opening of your School is for me the beginning of a new major philanthropic medical complex. My purpose is to make possible the development of your career, but you must achieve. If you fail, I have failed. If you succeed, Pakistan will be rewarded.” [1]

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II. 1996…Baccalaureate Address  at Brown University, Providence, USA

May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown Univeristy's "Green" watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant

May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown Univeristy’s “Green” watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant/Simerg.

“The Aga Khan University was founded thirteen years ago in Pakistan with planning assistance from Harvard. It was the first private self-governing university in that country of 125 million people. Medical Science was the initial field of engagement. As Pakistan had one of the lowest ratios in the world of nurses to doctors, and the nursing profession was mired in mediocrity, social unacceptability and low pay, nursing became our priority. With the assistance of McMaster University in Ontario, a curriculum was designed and a School of Nursing launched. In addition to becoming a leading academic institution, it has transformed the role of women in society by providing them with new educational and professional opportunities.

“This solution to some of Pakistan’s most pressing health care problems, which has also enhanced the social self-worth and professional status of women in the country, may soon be replicated in other areas. Under the university’s international charter, the nursing school now envisages the creation of an Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies in East Africa to extend the same professional and societal opportunities to the women of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and further afield.” [2]

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III. 2001…Archon Award Ceremony, Copenhagen, Denmark

“It is particularly meaningful to receive this recognition from Sigma Theta Tau with its record of focussed dedication to the global advancement of nursing. I have long felt the enhancement of the nursing profession to be absolutely critical to the improvement of health care in the developing world, and the Islamic world. The way forward was to professionalise, to institutionalise, and to dignify this great profession.

“More than twenty-five years ago, these were some of the central concerns that led to the establishment of the Aga Khan University in Karachi and its School of Nursing. Universities have the unique capacity for forming the human resources necessary for all fields of human development.

“The School of Nursing was the first academic programme offered by the Aga Khan University for a combination of reasons, some universal in nature, and others particular to countries like Pakistan. It is generally accepted that high quality health care, both in institutional as well as community settings, cannot be provided effectively without capable nurses to support physicians and other health professionals. But Pakistan suffers from an acute shortage of nurses. Even now, there are four physicians for every nurse whereas the international norm is at least five nurses to every physician. In addition, because women constitute an overwhelming number of nurses in the developing world, the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University felt that the School of Nursing could foster the enhancement of nurses, and women professionals more generally, empowering them, and increasing their standing and effectiveness in society.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, talking with graduating students at a luncheon held on the Aga Khan University Campus during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, talking with graduating students at a luncheon held on the Aga Khan University Campus during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

“Today, the AKU School of Nursing takes pride that:

“More and more women are coming forward to join the profession. By adding programmes that lead to Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Nursing for the first time in Pakistan, the School is providing opportunities for career advancement that were out of reach for nearly everyone in the profession in the country.

“The School of Nursing has become an important resource for policy dialogues with the government and the nation’s Nursing Council. It has assisted in the review and reforming of nursing policies, and the curriculum for nursing education for the country as a whole.

“The School of Nursing is also in the vanguard as the Aga Khan University launches its first programmes outside Pakistan, in fulfilment of the provisions of its charter as an international university. The School is developing an initiative in Advanced Nursing Studies regionally in Eastern Africa, responding to the needs for advanced training in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.” [3]

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IV. 2014…House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada

“The nursing school’s impact has been enormous; many of those who now head other nursing programmes and hospitals in the whole of the region — not just Pakistan — are graduates of our school.” [4]

Date posted: Friday, February 20, 2015.
Last updated: February 21, 2015.

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Notes:

[1] Speech at the Inauguration of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan, February 16, 1981.

[2] Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 1996 at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in the Meeting House of the First Baptist in America, near the Brown University campus in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

[3] Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Archon Award Ceremony of Sigma Theta Tau International, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 7, 2001.

[4] Address of His Highness the Aga Khan to both Houses of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa, February 27, 2014.

For speeches made by Mawlana Hazar Imam, please visit http://www.akdn.org/speeches and http://www.nanowisdoms.org.

Kundan Paatni: A Dedicated Nurse Shares Her Special Moments at the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, in the 1960s

“To my overwhelming surprise the lift door opened on to the fifth floor where I was in charge. There they were, the Aga Khan and the President. I was honoured and awed. I felt like the luckiest person on earth. I met all the dignitaries and escorted them through the impeccable ward of which we were so proud.” — Kundanben Paatni

ESSAYS AND LETTERS: The Amazing Story of Kundan Paatni: A Graduate of the Aga Khan Nursing School in Nairobi in the 1960s

His Highness the Aga Khan and the late President Jomo Kenyatta visit the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Kundan Paatni Archives.

His Highness the Aga Khan and the late President Jomo Kenyatta visit the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Kundan Paatni Archives.

Unity and Self-Effacement by Prince Aly Khan

“If self-effacement is achieved, the foundation of unity will have been well and truly laid…Be guided by the lives of men like Hasan bin Sabah and Pir Sadar Din.”

Prince Aly Khan in Nagpur,India. The following can be identified (l to r): In Turban and Saafa with medal on his lapel is Late Vazir ValiBhoy Sunderji. The person in front with glasses is Vazir Ibrahim Suleman Haji. Seen behind the mirophone is Late Vazir JaferAli Abji Bhalwani. The person on extreme right of the photograph is Late Alwaez AliBhai Hasham Jiwani  Photo: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.

Prince Aly Khan (13 June 1911 – 12 May 1960)  in Nagpur, India. The following can be identified (l to r): In turban and saafa with medal on his lapel is Late Vazir Valibhoy Sunderji. The person in front with glasses is Vazir Ibrahim Suleman Haji. Seen behind the mcirophone is Late Vazir JaferAli Abji Bhalwani. The person on extreme right of the photograph is Vazir H. Javeri. Photo/Caption: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.

“Unity and self-effacement are the greatest contributions we can make individually to the rest of the community.

“By self-effacement, I mean the forgetting of oneself sometimes and making one’s personal interests subservient to those of the largest number. If self-effacement is achieved, the foundation of unity will have been well and truly laid. For, at present, it is the consciousness of one’s self-importance and dignity which is making people forget their duties and responsibilities, and indulge in petty squabbles and bitter trivialities.

Prince Aly Khan pictured with members of  Lourenço Marques (Maputo after independence) during his visit to Mozambique in 1958. Photo: Jehangir A. Merchant Collection.

Prince Aly Khan pictured with members of Lourenço Marques (Maputo after independence) during his visit to Mozambique in 1958. Photo: Jehangir A. Merchant Collection.

“The welfare of the Ismailis is so near and dear to my heart that I cannot light-heartedly bring myself to overlook the weak points of the community. It is by recognizing our own faults that we can hope to improve. Let us realize that in the matter of helping our brethren we have much to learn from our sister communities, and that if we ever hope to achieve what we have set out to, we must resolutely follow the principles of the faith, be guided by the lives of men like Hasan bin Sabah and Pir Sadar Din and concentrate on the two most important principles of life — namely, Unity and Service of the Imam-e-Zaman and Community.” – Ismaili, India, February 2, 1941.

Did Mawlana Hazar Imam Mention the Planet Venus At Any Time?

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

Magellan spacecraft radar data enabled scientists to penetrate Venus' thick clouds and create simulated views of the surface. Venus is a dim world of intense heat and volcanic activity.  Similar in structure and size to Earth, Venus' thick, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway 'greenhouse effect.' The scorched world has temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Glimpses below the clouds reveal volcanoes and deformed mountains. Venus spins slowly in the opposite direction of most planets. However, NASA scientists imagine sending astronauts to study Venus by floating them above the planet where the atmosphere is similar to that of Earth's. Credit for image and caption (NASA).

Magellan spacecraft radar data enabled scientists to penetrate Venus’ thick clouds and create simulated views of the surface. Venus is a dim world of intense heat and volcanic activity. Similar in structure and size to Earth, Venus’ thick, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway ‘greenhouse effect.’ The scorched world has temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Glimpses below the clouds reveal volcanoes and deformed mountains. Venus spins slowly in the opposite direction of most planets. However, NASA scientists imagine sending astronauts to study Venus by floating them above the planet where the atmosphere is similar to that of Earth’s. Credit for image and caption (NASA).

By Abdulmalik J. Merchant 

As a young boy with a rudimentary understanding about the planets in our solar system, I was always interested in high-flying objects and space. I often wondered why Mawlana Hazar Imam would have made a reference to Venus during his address in Dar-es-Salaam in 1959, as in the following quote:

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: John Macdonald.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: John Macdonald.

“During your lifetime, you and probably more your children are going to face a revolution which will be somewhat like the Industrial Revolution in Britain, but it will be of a far greater consequence. For those in astronomy, geology, mechanics, radio, television, printing, this is such a thorough revolution that if you want to be able to comprehend it and yet to be able to keep for your children the values which you have in life, you have to have a source for these values which your children can live to. When you think that you will be able to leave this world, and spend the weekend on the moon or Venus or something like that, this is a fact which may be very far from you today, but I want you to understand this is not a thought which will be far from your children” — Mawlana Hazar Imam [1]

A reference to Mars might not have intrigued me, as it has always been the most-talked of all the planets that we earthlings might one day visit, but Venus, I said to myself, seemed to be out-of-place at 500 degrees Celcius, where its scorching heat can melt lead!

However, during the past week, media around the world — including the BBC, CNN and CBC — have carried a story about NASA’s possible future venture into Venus with significant importance. The following excerpt from Sputniknews is one of many reports on the subject, which was first released by the renowned professional scientific organization IEEE [2]:

“Much of the recent focus on interplanetary travel has been on manned missions to Mars. But Venus is much closer — and the upper atmosphere of that planet is remarkably like Earth’s. That’s why NASA scientists are proposing a mission to study our next-door neighbor in giant airships.”

Sputniknews then lightly adds:

“Are you looking to get out-of-town after the holiday season?…If you’re looking to really escape, you might want to consider a trip to Venus. At a mere 38 million kilometers (24 million miles), it’s the closest planet to Earth. But it’s not exactly a vacation destination. With an average temperature of about 860 degrees, you’d burn to a crisp before you had a chance to get your tan on. Still, if you’re really convinced Venus is the place to be, NASA has you covered.” [3]

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, our beloved 48th Imam, had once said that when Imams open their mouths to speak, heaps of pearls (moti na dagla) flow. The Imam’s words often carry pointers to what might follow later. As my beloved father often told me, the Imam of the Time can see over a high wall — a distance away that we can never see.

On reading the story about Venus, I thought I might share with readers of this blog some of the images that NASA has put out to show how they intend to build a colony above Venus, which offers an earth-like environment and where one day, perhaps, our great-grandchildren may wander.

For me, at least, the reference to the moon and Venus by Mawlana Hazar Imam, is an affirmation of the Imam’s broader insight and vision, that his knowledge is all-encompassing, and that if we, as his murids, hold strong to the Rope of Imamat we shall always remain on Sirat -al-Mustaqeem (the straight path) regardless of the age and time we live in — the atomic age, the space age or something even beyond that.

With this thought, I wish all contributors, readers and subscribers of Simerg as well as its sister blog, Simergphotos, a Blessed and Happy New Year!

FIVE STEPS IN BUILDING A VENUS COLONY

Phase 1: Robotic exploration. Photo: NASA.

Phase 1: Robotic exploration. Photo: NASA Langley Research Center

Date posted: December 28, 2014.

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  1. Precious Gems, Volume 1, Published by His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismailia Association for Canada, pp 17-18.
  2. http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/space-flight/nasa-study-proposes-airships-cloud-cities-for-venus-exploration (IEEE)
  3. http://us.sputniknews.com/us/20141225/1013381394.html

Please also see:

2014 Twelve Piece Collection from Simergphotos: Selected Photos Spanning the Reign of Two Ismaili Imams – Glimpses of 130 Years of Ismaili History

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Photo Essay: The Ismaili Centre – “Peace Through Prayer” and “A Splendid Reality”

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Photos and Videos: Simerg Captures the Spirit of the Jamat on the Opening Day of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto, Canada

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The message appeared in the Diamond Jubilee Yearbook published in Dar-es-Salaam on 10th August 1946. See cover of special issue following message transcript below.

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