A Unique Video of the Signing Ceremony Establishing “Seat of the Ismaili Imamat” in Portugal

Editor’s note: We are pleased to offer our readers a link to an extraordinary footage shown on Portuguese Cable News Channel, SIC Noticias,  of the signing ceremony that took place in Lisbon establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. We also include two other short clips of remarks made by the Foreign Minister of Portugal and the Prime Minister of Portugal. The event in Lisbon on June 3, 2015 was a truly historic moment in the modern history of the Ismaili Imamat, and earlier this week we brought you the complete English text of the Agreement. Readers who haven’t read the text are invited to click on “Seat of the Ismaili Imamat” — Text of the Historic Agreement.

I. FANTASTIC VIDEO OF THE HISTORIC SIGNING ESTABLISHING THE SEAT OF THE ISMAILI IMAMAT IN PORTUGAL

Please click on image below or “Video of the Signing of the Historic Agreement Establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal

His Highness the Aga Khan signing the historic document establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view the video.

His Highness the Aga Khan signing the historic document establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view the video.

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II. REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, RUI MACHETE

Portugal's Minister of Foreign Affairs speaking at the signing of the Agreement  establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view a video clip of the remarks.

Portugal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs speaking at the signing of the Agreement establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view a video clip of the remarks.

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III. REMARKS BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF PORTUGAL, PEDRO PASSOS COELHO

Portugal's Prime Minister speaking at the signing of the Agreement establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view a video clip of the remarks.

Portugal’s Prime Minister speaking at the signing of the Agreement establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view a video clip of the remarks.

Date posted: August 6, 2015.

Full English text of agreement at “Seat of the Ismaili Imamat” — Text of the Historic Agreement Between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic.

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This post is also reproduced at http://www.simergphotos.com, Simerg’s photo blog.

“Seat of the Ismaili Imamat” — Text of the Historic Agreement Between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic

Introduced by Abdulmalik Merchant
Publisher-Editor, Simerg.com

Mawlana Hazar Imam thanking the government for inviting the Ismaili Imamat to establish its permanent Seat in Portugal. TheIsmaili/Gary Otte

June 3, 2015: Mawlana Hazar Imam thanking the government for inviting the Ismaili Imamat to establish its permanent Seat in Portugal. TheIsmaili/Gary Otte

On Thursday June 4, 2015, in a piece entitled History in the Making: Establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal, we informed our readers about a landmark agreement that was signed a day earlier by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and Portugal’s Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Rui Machete, at the historic Necessidades Palace in Lisbon. The Agreement marked the first such accord in the Ismaili Imamat’s modern history.

We are pleased to inform our readers that we now have access to this milestone agreement which is being reproduced in full below based on the text of the original English version of the document, which appears on the website of the Portuguese Parliament. [1]

The Agreement is divided into 5 chapters dealing with (1) General Provision; (2) The Seat of Imamat; (3) Prerogatives of the Imam and the Members of the Seat; (4) Cooperation; and (5) Final Provisions, and consists of  21 articles. The Agreement, reflecting the mutual trust and esteem which has traditionally characterised the relationship between the Republic of Portugal and Mawlana Hazar Imam, affirms the recognition of the legal personality of the Ismaili Imamat.

During the signing on June 3, His Highness the Aga Khan hailed the agreement as a historic milestone in the Imamat’s history and said:

“Today is a unique and important occasion, where for the first time in our history we will have the opportunity to work with a partner with whom we share so many values, so many hopes and so many desires.”

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AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC
AND
THE ISMAILI IMAMAT
FOR
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
THE SEAT OF THE ISMAILI IMAMAT IN PORTUGAL

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Portugal’s Minister of State and Foreign Affairs Rui Machete sign a landmark agreement establishing a formal Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. TheIsmaili/Gary Otte

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Portugal’s Minister of State and Foreign Affairs Rui Machete sign a landmark agreement on June 3, 2015, establishing a formal Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. TheIsmaili/Gary Otte

The Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat, hereinafter referred to as “Parties”,

Considering the Protocol of Co-operation between the Government of the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat, signed in Lisbon on 19 December 2005 and considering further the Protocol of International Co-operation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat signed on 11 July 2008;

Recalling the Agreement between the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat, signed in Lisbon, on 8 May 2009, whereby the legal personality of the Ismaili Imamat is recognised;

Having in mind the common purpose of strengthening the historical ties uniting both Parties, as well as of promoting enhanced enabling conditions for the activities of the Ismaili Imamat, its governance bodies and its dependent institutions, in particular the member entities of the Aga Khan Development Network;

Furthermore having in mind the promotion of the quality of life of the global Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim Community and more generally of the people of the countries where the Ismaili Imamat or its dependent institutions are or may become active, including Portugal and the Portuguese people in particular;

Considering that both Parties assume, as common objectives, the defence of human dignity, economic and social development, interfaith dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as ways of achieving justice and peace;

Affirming the interest of both Parties in the establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in the territory of the Portuguese Republic and their common will mutually to respect each other’s autonomy in the context of the mutual trust and esteem which has traditionally characterised their relationship;

Believing in the historic significance of such a decision for both Parties and fully appreciating the long term implications and complexities that such a decision entails;

Considering that the privileges, immunities and facilities recognised are not granted for the personal benefit of their holders, but merely in order to contribute to the effective and independent performance of their official and institutional functions on Portuguese territory;

Agree as follows:

Chapter I: General Provisions

ARTICLE 1

Definitions

For the purposes of this Agreement, the following terms shall have the meaning set forth below:

a) “Ismaili Imamat”, a legal entity, means the institution or office of the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims established in accordance with the applicable customary law;

b) “Imam” means the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, embodying the Ismaili Imamat at any given time in history, designated in accordance with the said customary law;

c) “Dependent Institutions” means the instrumentalities of the Ismaili Imamat, in particular the member entities of the Aga Khan Development Network around the world, more particularly Fundação Aga Khan, a Portuguese foundation created by decree-law in 1996;

d) “Seat” means the global head office of the Ismaili Imamat, as further defined in the present Agreement;

e) “Members of the Seat” means the Senior Officials and the Staff Members of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat;

f) “Senior Officials” means the Heads of the Ismaili Imamat Departments;

g) “Staff Members” means the Members of the Seat employed in the administrative and technical service of the Seat;

h) “Premises of the Seat” means the buildings or parts of buildings and the land ancillary thereto used exclusively for carrying out the official mission and performing the official functions of the Ismaili Imamat, including the central Seat premises, the premises of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Lisbon and the official residence of the Imam.

ARTICLE 2

Object

1. The Portuguese Republic acknowledges the legal personality and capacity of the Ismaili Imamat to act in international relations and welcomes the decision of the Imam to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal.

2. This Agreement establishes the privileges, immunities and facilities extended by the Portuguese Republic to the Ismaili Imamat, the Imam, the Senior Officials and the Staff Members, as well as to its Seat and assets, with a view to ensuring the performance of their official functions in Portugal and facilitating the same internationally.

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Chapter II: Seat of the Ismaili Imamat

ARTICLE 3

Seat

1. The Portuguese Republic shall ensure the conditions for the establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat within its territory as well as for the exercise of its functions, in accordance with the present agreement.

2. The location of the Premises of the Seat shall be subject to mutual agreement between the Parties. Pending the construction or acquisition of the central Premises of the Seat, and within a period of five (5) years, the Seat may be established in Lisbon, in the existing premises of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. The Imam shall notify his decision in this respect to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

ARTICLE 4

Function of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat

The function of the Seat is to serve as the global head office of the Ismaili Imamat with a view to:

a) Facilitating the spiritual and secular guidance of the Imam to the Ismaili Community globally;

b) Promoting the quality of life of the Ismaili Community globally and more generally of the people of the countries where the Ismaili Imamat or its Dependent Institutions are active;

c) Enhancing international relations and co-operation with States, International Organisations and other entities.

ARTICLE 5

Appointment of the Members of the Seat

1. The appointment of the Senior Officials of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat by the Imam shall be preceded by a consultation with the Portuguese Government and shall be notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to the procedures applicable to members of diplomatic missions accredited in the Portuguese Republic.

2. The number of Members of the Seat shall be determined by the Imam as may be necessary to enable the Ismaili Imamat to carry out its functions. The Ismaili Imamat will review such number with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

3. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall issue diplomatic identity cards to the Members of the Seat, according to the functions they perform, the highest level being attributed to Senior Officials and the other levels to the other Members of the Seat as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Imam shall establish.

ARTICLE 6

Inviolability of the Premises of the Seat

1. The Portuguese authorities shall take all appropriate steps to protect the Premises of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat against any intrusion, threats or damage.

2. The Premises of the Seat, as well as the Ismaili Imamat land, air or sea vehicles used for its official functions, are inviolable, except in emergency situations that endanger public order and security, in case of a serious incident or any other event requiring immediate protective measures.

3. The Premises of the Seat cannot be used as a place of refuge for any individual prosecuted for a crime or flagrante delicto or subject to a court warrant, criminal conviction or a deportation order issued by the Portuguese authorities.

ARTICLE 7

Inviolability of files and correspondence

The files and documents as well as the official correspondence of the Ismaili Imamat are inviolable at any time and wherever located within Portuguese territory.

ARTICLE 8

Use of distinctive signs

The Ismaili Imamat shall be entitled to use distinctive signs, flags and emblems, in the Premises of the Seat as well as on any of the said official vehicles, which shall enjoy a registration status no less favourable than that accorded by the Portuguese Republic to diplomatic missions.

ARTICLE 9

Facilities in respect of communications

The Ismaili Imamat shall enjoy on the territory of the Portuguese Republic, for the purposes of its official communications and correspondence, treatment no less favourable than that accorded by the Portuguese Republic to diplomatic missions.

ARTICLE 10

Immunity from jurisdiction and from execution

The Ismaili Imamat and its assets shall enjoy immunity from jurisdiction and execution within the scope of its official activities, except:

a) When the Ismaili Imamat expressly waives those immunities;

b) In the context of cases related to employment contracts;

c) In a lawsuit brought by a third party with a view to obtaining financial compensation for death and injuries suffered as a result of an accident caused by vehicles owned or used by the Seat, or in case of any offence involving one of those vehicles.

ARTICLE 11

Fiscal exemptions

1. Gifts and bequests made by the Ismaili Imamat or the Imam within the context of their official functions or received by the Ismaili Imamat or the Imam, as well as income received by them, including capital gains, as well as the assets held by the Ismaili Imamat or the Imam, shall not be subject to any tax, including income or wealth tax.

2. Without prejudice to the application of more favourable provisions, granted by the Portuguese Republic to any other religious institution, the provisions of paragraph 1 shall not extend to:

a) Income deriving from any business activity directly exercised in Portugal neither to the assets connected to such activity;

b) Interest and other investment income, either due or paid by any resident in Portugal or effectively connected with the activity of a permanent establishment or fixed base in Portugal, as foreseen in the Portuguese corporate income tax code.

3. The income referred to in paragraph 2 (b) shall be subject to withholding tax, of a final character, in accordance with the corporate income tax legislation of the Portuguese Republic.

4. The Ismaili Imamat shall be exempt from any national or local tax on immovable property as regards the Premises of the Seat.

5. The Ismaili Imamat and the Imam shall be exempt from stamp duty, as well as from any other transfer tax, on the acquisition or sale of movable or immovable properties used or to be used for their official functions.

6. The Ismaili Imamat and the Imam shall be exempt from any taxes or duties on the purchase, ownership, registration, use or sale of land, air or sea vehicles, including spare parts and consumables, used for its official functions.

7. The Ismaili Imamat shall be entitled to a refund of the amounts corresponding to VAT paid on goods, including the vehicles above-mentioned, and services purchased or imported for its official use. The Portuguese Republic will establish the conditions and procedures for the application of such refund.

8. Gifts made to the Ismaili Imamat shall be tax deductible according to the Portuguese legislation applicable to gifts made to religious institutions.

ARTICLE 12

Funds, foreign currency and assets

1. Subject always to the laws and regulations of the Portuguese Republic and of the European Union, namely those regarding the fight against money laundering and terrorism, the Ismaili Imamat may hold funds, securities, gold and other precious metals, or foreign currencies.

2. The Ismaili Imamat shall be free to receive any such values from within or from outside Portugal and hold and transfer the same within Portugal or from Portugal to any country and to convert any currency held or bought into any other currency.

3. This does not preclude the Portuguese Republic from adopting any requirements resulting from its membership of the European Union, including measures prohibiting, restricting or limiting the movement of capital to or from any third country.

Continued after photo below

The agreement establishing Portugal as the seat of the Ismaili Imamat took place at the Palace of Necessidades. It  is a historical building in the Largo do Rilvas, a public square in Lisbon, Portugal. It serves as headquarters of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. Palace Photo Photo: Wikipedia.

The agreement establishing Portugal as the seat of the Ismaili Imamat took place at the Palace of Necessidades. It is a historical building in the Largo do Rilvas, a public square in Lisbon, Portugal. It serves as headquarters of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. Palace photo: Wikipedia.

Chapter III: Prerogatives of the Imam and the Members of the Seat

ARTICLE 13

Prerogatives of the Imam

1. The Imam shall be granted the following prerogatives:

a) Ceremonial diplomatic treatment accorded in Portugal to foreign High Entities;

b) His official residence shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the Seat;

c) Inviolability of any type of papers, documents or materials as well as of any communications;

d) Immunity from any judicial action and legal proceedings in respect of acts done in the performance of his functions for the Ismaili Imamat, including immunity from any measures of execution;

2. The direct family members of the Imam shall be accorded the appropriate facilities and courtesy treatment.

ARTICLE 14

Prerogatives of the Senior Officials

The Senior Officials of the Seat shall enjoy such privileges, immunities and facilities as are necessary for the performance of their functions, such as:

a) Ceremonial treatment accorded to diplomatic representatives of equivalent level and in the same circumstances;

b) Their residence shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the Premises of the Seat;

c) Inviolability of any type of papers, documents or materials relating to the functions of the Ismaili Imamat, as well as of any communications;

d) Immunity from any judicial action and legal proceedings, including immunity from any measures of execution, in respect of acts done by them in the performance of their functions for the Ismaili Imamat;

e) Exemption from all direct taxes and social charges on salaries, wages and other similar remuneration paid to them in their capacity as Senior Officials by the Ismaili Imamat or its Dependent Institutions;

f) When required by Portuguese or European legislation, facilitation of issuance of visas and residence permits, extended to direct family members.

ARTICLE 15

Prerogatives of the Staff Members

The Portuguese authorities guarantee the protection and necessary assistance to the Staff Members of the Seat with a view to securing the efficient performance of their official functions, including, when required by Portuguese or European legislation, facilitation of issuance of visas and residence permits.

Chapter IV: Cooperation

ARTICLE 16

Support for scientific and economic development

1. The Ismaili Imamat shall actively support the efforts of the Portuguese Republic to improve the quality of life of all those living in Portugal, particularly through the development in Portugal of world-class research projects in the said area, but more generally on subjects of common interest to the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat.

2. In view of the above, the Ismaili Imamat shall cause its highest level Dependent Institutions to create a special window devoted to achieving the objectives set out above in cooperation with the relevant Ministries or other entities of the Portuguese Government.

Chapter V: Final Provisions

ARTICLE 17

Joint Committee and Settlement of disputes

The Parties shall establish a Joint Committee composed of six (6) members, three (3) appointed by the Portuguese Republic and three (3) by the Ismaili Imamat, for the following purposes:

a) Aiming to guarantee the implementation of the present Agreement;

b) Settling any differences or disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the present Agreement, with the understanding that, if an agreed solution cannot be found in the context of the Joint Committee, the matter shall be brought to direct negotiation between the Parties.

ARTICLE 18

Amendments

1. The present Agreement may be amended by the Parties by written mutual consent.

2. The amendments shall enter into force in accordance with the terms specified in Article 21 of the present Agreement.

ARTICLE 19

Duration and termination

1. The present Agreement shall remain in force for an unlimited period of time.

2. Either Party may, after an initial period of twenty-five (25) years, terminate the present Agreement upon prior written notice of four (4) years, to be communicated through diplomatic channels. The Parties may by written agreement, modify the length of the said notice time.

ARTICLE 20

Cooperation with competent authorities

The Ismaili Imamat shall fully co-operate with the competent Portuguese authorities, without prejudice to this Agreement, with a view to complying with Portuguese legislation and preventing abuse of the privileges, immunities and facilities granted under the present Agreement.

ARTICLE 21

Entry into force

The present Agreement shall enter into force thirty (30) days after the date of notification in writing by the Portuguese Republic to the Ismaili Imamat, conveying the completion of the constitutional procedures of the Portuguese Republic required for that purpose.

Done in Portuguese and English, in Lisbon, on the 3rd day of June 2015.

For the Portuguese Republic

His Excellency Rui Chancerelle de Machete
Ministry of State and Foreign Affairs

For the Ismaili Imamat

His Highness Shah Karim al-Hussaini Prince Aga Khan, Forty-Ninth Hereditary Imam
of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

Date posted: August 3, 2015.
Last updated: August 6, 2015 (Video link of the signing ceremony added, see below).

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EXTRAORDINARY VIDEO: THE SEAT OF THE ISMAILI IMAMAT IN PORTUGAL

Please click on image below or “Video of the Signing of the Historic Agreement Establishing the Seat of the smaili Imamat in Portugugal

His Highness the Aga Khan signing the historic document establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view the video.

His Highness the Aga Khan signing the historic document establishing the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Please click on image to view the video.

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[1] The PDF version of the June 3, 2015 Agreement is in the public domain, and may be viewed by clicking on English Text of the Agreement, PDF File, website of the Government of Portugal.

We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click Leave a comment. For links to articles posted on this Web site since its launch in March 2009, please click Table of Contents.

Special Series: Ismaili Expressions on the Imamat and Imam of the Time — (I) The Preamble of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

By Abdulmalik Merchant

Canada’s Confederation Day, the American Independence Day, Tanzania’s Saba Saba celebrations and the Imamat Day of His Highness the Aga Khan, all fall in the month of July.

Canada is already preparing for its 150th birthday two years hence when Ismailis around the world will, inshallah, celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of their beloved 49th Imam, whom they respectfully address as Mawlana Hazar Imam.

 A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, with a framed portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the background. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, with a framed portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the background. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan succeeded to the 49th hereditary throne of Imamat at the age of twenty by the will of his grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, who served as the 48th Ismaili Imam for a record 71 years (August 17, 1885 – July 11, 1957).

Over the next week, Simerg will provide an insight into the principles of Imamat through short readings. We begin the series by posting the Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution, which is an introductory succinct statement giving the historical roots of the Ismaili Imamat, the principle of Imamat succession, and the permanency of the spiritual bond that exists between the Imam and his followers.

Another theme that will be explored in the coming few days through the writings of Ismaili Pirs, missionaries and philosophers is the principle of the Unity of Imamat, that is the Ismaili belief and understanding that each Imam, being the bearer of the Noor (Light) of Imamat, is the same irrespective of his own age or the time he lives in.

Finally, another aspect that will become apparent from the readings to follow is that the hereditary institution of Imamat can never become extinct. This is in accordance with the well known Muslim prophetic tradition, hadith thaqalain, which says, “I leave behind me two weighty things: The Book of Allah and my Progeny. If you keep yourselves attached to these two, never, never will you go astray. Both are tied with a long rope and cannot be separated until the Day of Judgement.”

The Preamble of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

Please click on photo for enlargement

December 13, 1986, Geneva: On his 50th birthday, His Highness the Aga Khan is seen ordaining a new constitution for the worldwide Ismaili community.

December 13, 1986, Geneva: On his 50th birthday, His Highness the Aga Khan is seen ordaining a new constitution for the worldwide Ismaili community.

“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.”

BACKGROUND

In 1905, the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, issued a written set of ‘Rules and Regulations’ for the Ismailis of East Africa which effectively served as their communal constitution. This constitution re-affirmed the centrality of the Imam’s authority over the affairs of his community and also articulated the distinctive religious identity of the Ismailis. This document was revised and published several times until 1954, and was made available to Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike. Similar rules were given to the Ismaili community in British India.

During the 1960’s, the 48th Imam’s grandson and successor, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan IV, gave Constitutions to his followers in Africa and Pakistan in 1962, and to the Jamat in India in 1967.

A constitution review committee was then formed in the early 1980’s, and after exhaustive review, Mawlana Hazar Imam, in 1986, ordained a new Ismaili Constitution known as “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.”

The Ismaili Constitution became applicable throughout the world, linking all Ismailis to the Imamat. His Highness did this with the belief that the Constitution would provide a strong institutional and organizational framework through which his community would be able to contribute to the harmonious development of the Muslim Ummah and of the societies in which his followers lived. He expressed confidence that the Ismaili Constitution would give a stronger integrated identity to his community, and that in abiding by it in letter and spirit, the Ismailis would achieve greater peace, unity, happiness, security and wellbeing. He futher hoped that the Constitution would become an enabling document for all his murids (followers) for an active role in institution building, for creative application of their abilities, for personal development and for intellectual and spiritual satisfaction.

The new constitution was ordained, signed and sealed by Mawlana Hazar Imam on December 13th, 1986, his fiftieth Salgirah (birthday) and thirtieth year of Imamat. The Constitution was revised by Mawlana Hazar Imam on July 11, 1998, when he completed forty one years of his spiritual leadership.

THE PREAMBLE

(A) The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims affirm the shahādah lā ilāha illa-llāh, Muhammadur rasulu-llāh, the Tawhid therein and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) is the last and final Prophet of Allah. Islam, as revealed in the Holy Quran, is the final message of Allah to mankind, and is universal and eternal. The Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through the divine revelation from Allah prescribed rules governing spiritual and temporal matters.

(B) In accordance with Shia doctrine, tradition, and interpretation of history, the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Mawlana Ali Amiru-l-Mu’minin (a.s), to be the first Imam to continue the Ta’wīl and Ta‘līm of Allah’s final message and to guide the murids, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s) and his daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, Khātun-i-Jannat (a.s).

(C) Succession of Imamat is by way of Nass, it being the absolute prerogative of the Imam of the time to appoint his successor from amongst any of his male descendents whether they be sons or remoter issue.

(D) The authority of the Imam in the Ismaili Tariqah is testified by Bay‘ah by the murid to the Imam which is the act of acceptance by the murid of the permanent spiritual bond between the Imam and the murid. This allegiance unites all Ismaili Muslims worldwide in their loyalty, devotion and obedience to the Imam within the Islamic concept of universal brotherhood. It is distinct from the allegiance of the individual murid to his land of abode.

(E) From the time of the Imamat of Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s), the Imams of the Ismaili Muslims have ruled over territories and peoples in various areas of the world at different periods of history and, in accordance with the needs of the time, have given rules of conduct and constitution in conformity with the Islamic concepts of unity, brotherhood, justice, tolerance and goodwill.

(F) 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.

(G) 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.

(H) By virtue of his office and in accordance with the faith and belief of the Ismaili Muslims, the Imam enjoys full authority of governance over and in respect of all religious and Jamati matters of the Ismaili Muslims.

(I) It is the desire and Hidāyat of Mawlana Hazar Imam that the constitutions presently applicable to the Ismaili Muslims in different countries be superseded and that the Ismaili Muslims worldwide be given this constitution in order better to secure their peace and unity, religious and social welfare, to foster fruitful collaboration between different peoples, to optimise the use of resources, and to enable the Ismaili Muslims to make a valid and meaningful contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of the Ummah and the societies in which they live.

Date posted: Saturday, July 4, 2015.

© Simerg.com

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References for this post:

(1) The Ismailis: An Illustrated History by Farhad Daftary and Zulfikar Hirji, published by Azimuth editions in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies (2008).

(2) Wikipedia article on Imamah, with link to website, http://www.salmanspiritual.com/

(3) http://www.kamalzar.com, website of Alwaez Kamaluddin Muhammad and Alwaeza Zarina Kamaludin.

Exclusive Simerg Photo Essay: His Highness the Aga Khan and Premier Kathleen Wynne Inaugurate the Beautiful Aga Khan Park in Toronto

PATRON AND BUILDER

Please click on photo(s) for enlargement

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims  directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), is the builder of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the newly opened Aga Khan Park that connects the two buildings. Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

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THE INAUGURATION CEREMONY

The recitation of the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

The recitation of the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Qur'an reciter Ahsan Afzaly, left, with his back-up colleague, Edrees Amiri, pictured at the Ismaili Centre prior to the opening ceremony. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Qur’an reciter Ahsan Afzaly, left, with his back-up colleague, Edrees Amiri, pictured at the Ismaili Centre prior to the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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The audience listen to the Ismaili Muslim Choir prior to the arrival of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam for the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant

The audience listens to the Ismaili Muslim Choir performing at the far left corner prior to the arrival of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam for the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant

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Mawlana Hazar Imam, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the reciter of the Holy Qur'an, Ahsan Afzally, look on as a translation of the Qur'anic verses in English and French is underway. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the reciter of the Holy Qur’an, Ahsan Afzally, look on as a translation of the Qur’anic verses in English and French is underway during the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. This panoramic view shows the elegance of the event which was held inside a beautifully decorated tent built for the occasion. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier Kathleen Wynne delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. This panoramic view shows the elegance of the event which was held inside a beautiful tent built for the occasion. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of her speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of her speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam gathers his speech before rising to speak to the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam gathers his speech before rising to speak to the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam in an animated mood as he shares a joke related to the expulsion of his community from Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam in an animated mood as he shares a joke related to the expulsion of his community from Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mwlana Hazar Imam receives a standing ovation as he is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mwlana Hazar Imam receives a standing ovation as he is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam shake hands after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam shake hands after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam and Premier Kathleen Wynne prepare to depart after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Premier Kathleen Wynne prepare to depart after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam seen departing the exquisitely prepared tent structure that hosted the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam seen departing the exquisitely prepared tent structure that hosted the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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The President of the Aga Khan Council for Australia, Azim Remtulla, was among those who attended the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

The President of the Aga Khan Council for Australia, Azim Remtulla, was among those who attended the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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The Aga Khan Museum became the venue for a special reception for guests who attended the opening of the Aga Khan Museum on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

The Aga Khan Museum became the venue for a special reception for guests who attended the opening of the Aga Khan Museum on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Date posted: May 27, 2015.

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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.

“Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet” – A Film Created and Produced by Alex Kronemer and Michael Wolfe

Originally aired on PBS to a word-wide audience exceeding 150 million people

“CANDID, THOUGHTFUL AND VISUALLY STUNNING” – Los Angeles Times

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) changed world history in 23 years and continues to shape and inspire the lives of more than 1.4 billion Muslims around the world.

Simerg is pleased to make available for its readers around the world a link to the film, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, that was originally aired on PBS to a world-wide audience exceeding 150 million people.  The internet age is a blessing of our time that, through outstanding movies such as this, we are able to learn more about the wonderful and noble qualities of  Prophet Muhammad. In his Presidential Address to the Seerat Conference in 1976, His Highness the Aga Khan had asked:

“In the face of this changing world, which was once a universe to us and is now no more than an overcrowded island, confronted with a fundamental challenge to our understanding of time, surrounded by a foreign fleet of cultural and ideological ships which have broken loose, I ask, ‘Do we have a clear, firm and precise understanding of what Muslim Society is to be in times to come?’ And if as I believe, the answer is uncertain, where else can we search then in the Holy Qur’an, and in the example of Allah’s last and final Prophet?”

 His Highness continued:

“The Holy Prophet’s life gives us every fundamental guideline that we require to resolve the problem as successfully as our human minds and intellects can visualise. His example of integrity, loyalty, honesty, generosity both of means and of time, his solicitude for the poor, the weak and the sick, his steadfastness in friendship, his humility in success, his magnanimity in victory, his simplicity, his wisdom in conceiving new solutions for problems which could not be solved by traditional methods, without affecting the fundamental concepts of Islam, surely all these are foundations which, correctly understood and sincerely interpreted, must enable us to conceive what should be a truly modern and dynamic Islamic Society in the years ahead.”

Some of these examples from the Prophet’s life come alive through this ground-breaking PBS film, which takes the viewers from the ancient Arabian sites where Prophet Muhammad’s story unfolded to the homes, mosques, and workplaces of some of America’s estimated seven million Muslims. The Los Angeles Times called the film “a candid, thoughtful, flowing, visually stunning film,” while The Catholic News Service commented that the Prophet’s biography offers viewers fresh insights into the spiritual foundations of Islam.

Readers can watch a preview of the film as well as the the full-length movie by clicking  on the following image:

Please click for links to full length movie and excerpts

His Highness the Aga Khan on Tunisia’s New Constitution + the Constitution’s Preamble

“In Tunisia…a new ‘consensus’ constitution with 94 per cent approval from the elected Constituent Assembly reaffirmed the Islamic identity of the Tunisian state, while also protecting the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Ogden Lecture, Brown University, March 10, 2014

Please click: His Highness the Aga Khan on Tunisia’s New Constitution, with English Translation of the Constitution’s Preamble

Location of Tunisia in North Africa. Please click on map for remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan

Location of Tunisia in North Africa. Please click on map for remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan

Please click: His Highness the Aga Khan on Tunisia’s New Constitution, with English Translation of the Constitution’s Preamble

An Ismaili (and the Flag) on Top of Mt. Everest….and Forthcoming @Simergphotos, Rare and Historical Photos from Australian and Other Private Collections

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ISMAILI MOUNTAINEERS

Samina Baig's cultural elegance captured in this  exquisite cultural dress from Hunza. Photo: Samina Baig's Facebook page.

Samina Baig’s cultural elegance captured in this exquisite cultural dress from Hunza. Photo: Samina Baig’s Facebook page.

PLEASE CLICK: Simerg’s Exclusive Interview with Mirza Ali and his Sister Samina Baig Who Became the First Ismaili and Pakistani Woman to Reach the Summit of Mt. Everest

Samina Baig at 21 became the first Ismaili woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest as part of her goal to scale the world’s SEVEN SUMMITS. In an exclusive interview with Simerg, when asked about placing the Ismaili flag on top Everest and if she left it there, she said:

“….And when it comes to being the first Pakistani woman and the first Ismaili woman to put the nation’s flag and the Ismaili Imamat red and green flag on top of the world, one cannot adequately express the feeling. It is indeed a BLESSING of a life time! We did bring the flag back, and with all love and respect, sent it to Sarcar Mawlana Hazar Imam.”

Please Continue Reading This World Exclusive Interview for the broader perspectives it offers about the challenges of climbing some of the world’s highest mountains!

Share and forward this LINK to your friends and family around the world. Please also leave your comments on the article’s feedback form.

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STARTING WEEK OF MAY 5:  EXTRAORDINARY, RARE AND HISTORICAL PHOTOS FROM PRIVATE COLLECTIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Photo: Collection of the family of the late Mrs. Jean Kirk, Headmistress, Aga Khan Primary School, Nairobi. Copyright: Allison Wallace, Australia.

Photo: Collection of the family of the late Mrs. Jean Kirk, Headmistress, Aga Khan Primary School, Nairobi. Copyright: Allison Wallace, Australia.

 

Exclusive: The Myanmar Jamatkhana by Muslim Harji @Simergphotos

PLEASE CLICK: Photo Essay: The Ismaili Jamatkhana in Myanmar, With Notes on the Community’s Patriotic Spirit

Also, publishing on Sunday, April 20, 2014: Concepts of Modern Cosmology
and Astrophysics in the Ginans

Please click on image for photo essay. Copyright: Muslim Harji

Please click on image for photo essay. Copyright: Muslim Harji

 

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

“As we all know, Canada is home to a well-established and
fast-growing Ismaili community. His Highness has therefore
become an increasingly frequent visitor, and always a welcome one.”
— Prime Minister Stephen Harper

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper walk the Hall of Honour at the Parliament of Canada. where His Highness delivered an address to both the Houses on Thursday, February 27, 2014. This impressive ceremonial hall is used for state occasions, parliamentary events, and formal processions such as the Speaker's Parade. The Hall of Honour is part of the central axis of the Centre Block, joining Confederation Hall to the Library of Parliament, and providing access to the main committee rooms. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper walk the Hall of Honour at the Parliament of Canada. where His Highness delivered an address to both the Houses on Thursday, February 27, 2014. This impressive ceremonial hall is used for state occasions, parliamentary events, and formal processions such as the Speaker’s Parade. The Hall of Honour is part of the central axis of the Centre Block, joining Confederation Hall to the Library of Parliament, and providing access to the main committee rooms. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

Material compiled and presented by Abdulmalik Merchant
Publisher-Editor, www.simerg.com

The following are thematic excerpts from His Highness the Aga Khan’s address to the Parliament of Canada on Thursday, February 27, 2014. A collection of selected links to the full speech text, the speech video as well as information related to the events that took place at the Parliament is provided at the end of this piece. Note – several photos are clickable for enlargement. See also new post His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada: Selected Excerpts from the Live English Translation of Remarks Made in French

1. THE ISMAILI IMAMAT REPRESENTS THE SUCCESSION OF IMAMS SINCE THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD

His Highness the Aga Khan is applauded by the Prime Minister, Members of the House, as well as other distinguished visitors as he arrives  in the House of Commons on Thursday, February 27, 2014 to deliver a rare address - the first by a faith leader in 75 years. The Ottawa Citizen published a similar photo on its front page of Friday February 28, giving it the title "In Divine Company." Alongside the Ismaili Imam are his daughter Princess Zahra and the Prime Minister's wife, Laureen Harper. Others in the photo, in rows adjacent to Mrs. Harper (l to r) -- 1st row: The Aga Khan's younger brother, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, Former Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, and renowned Canadian author, intellectual and philosopher,  John Ralston Saul; 2nd row (l to r). President Malik Talib of the Aga Khan Ismaili Councli for Canada, Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Princess Salwa Aga Khan and her husband Prince Rahim Aga Khan - with both the Princes in the photo being the Aga Khan's children. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan is applauded by the Prime Minister, Members of the House, as well as other distinguished visitors as he arrives in the House of Commons on Thursday, February 27, 2014 to deliver a rare address – the first by a faith leader in 75 years. The Ottawa Citizen published a similar photo on its front page of Friday February 28, giving it the title “In Divine Company.” Alongside the Ismaili Imam are his daughter Princess Zahra and the Prime Minister’s wife, Laureen Harper. Others in the photo, in rows adjacent to Mrs. Harper (l to r) — 1st row: The Aga Khan’s younger brother, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, Former Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, and renowned Canadian author, intellectual and philosopher, John Ralston Saul; 2nd row (l to r). President Malik Talib of the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Princess Salwa Aga Khan and her husband Prince Rahim Aga Khan – with both the Princes in the row being the Aga Khan’s children. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

I propose today to give you some background about myself and my role, and then to reflect about what we call the Ummah — the entirety of Muslim communities around the world.

I will comment, as a faith leader, on the crisis of governance in so much of the world today, before concluding with some thoughts about the values that can assist countries of crisis to develop into countries of opportunity, and how Canada can help shape that process.

First then, a few personal words. I was born into a Muslim family, linked by heredity to the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him and his family). My education blended Islamic and Western traditions, and I was studying at Harvard some 50 years ago (yes 50 years ago — actually 56 years ago!) when I became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Photo: Copyright Jean-Marc Carisse.

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Photo: Copyright Jean-Marc Carisse.

The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet. But let me clarify something more about the history of that role, in both the Sunni and Shia interpretations of the Muslim faith. The Sunni position is that the Prophet nominated no successor, and that spiritual-moral authority belongs to those who are learned in matters of religious law. As a result, there are many Sunni imams in a given time and place. But others believed that the Prophet had designated his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. From that early division, a host of further distinctions grew up — but the question of rightful leadership remains central. In time, the Shia were also sub-divided over this question, so that 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.

An expression of gratitude and humility by His Highness the Aga Khan as he accepts a standing ovation at the Canadian Parliament on Thursday February 24, 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen applauding, with Princess Zahra, the daughter of His Highness, and Laureen Harper, the Prime Minister's wife, standing alongside the 49th Ismaili Imam. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

An expression of gratitude and humility by His Highness the Aga Khan as he accepts a standing ovation at the Canadian Parliament on Thursday February 27, 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen applauding, with Princess Zahra, the daughter of His Highness, and Laureen Ann Harper, the Prime Minister’s wife, standing alongside the 49th Ismaili Imam. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

The role of the Ismaili Imam is a spiritual one; his authority is that of religious interpretation. It is not a political role. I do not govern any land. At the same time, Islam believes fundamentally that the spiritual and material worlds are inextricably connected. Faith does not remove Muslims — or their Imams — from daily, practical matters in family life, in business, in community affairs.

Faith, rather, is a force that should deepen our concern for our worldly habitat, for embracing its challenges, and for improving the quality of human life.

This Muslim belief in the fusion of Faith and World is why much of my attention has been committed to the work of the Aga Khan Development Network.

2. COMMUNITY IN 1957 AND NOW, WORLD CONFLICTS AND THE RESILIENCE OF THE ISMAILI PEOPLE

In 1957, when I succeeded my grandfather as Imam, the Ismaili community lived for the most part in the colonies or ex-colonies of France, Belgium and the British Empire, or behind the Iron Curtain. They are still a highly diverse community, in terms of ethnicity, language, culture, and geography. They continue to live mostly in the developing world, though increasing numbers now live in Europe and North America.

Before 1957, individual Ismaili communities had their own social and economic institutions where that was allowed. There was no intent for them to grow to national prominence, and even less a vision to coordinate their activities across frontiers.

Today, however, that situation has changed, and the Aga Khan Development Network has a strong presence in several dozen countries, where appropriate regional coordination is also useful.

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, face eager cameras at the Canadian Parliament Building on Thursday, 27 February, 2014. An oil on canvas painting of The Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Prime Minister (1867-1873; 1878-1891) adorns a wall as part of the House of Commons Heritage Collection, while the Ismaili Imamat and Canadian Flags form a backdrop in this historical photo. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, face eager cameras at the Canadian Parliament Building on Thursday, 27 February, 2014. An oil on canvas painting of The Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Prime Minister (1867-1873; 1878-1891) adorns a wall as part of the House of Commons Heritage Collection, while the Ismaili Imamat and Canadian Flags form a backdrop in this historical photo. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

The AKDN — as we call it — is composed of a variety of private, non-governmental, non-denominational agencies implementing many of the Imamat’s responsibilities….Most of our AKDN activities have been born from the grass-roots of developing countries, reflecting their aspirations and their fragilities. Through the years, of course, this landscape has changed fundamentally, with the creation of new states like Bangladesh, the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Uganda, the collapse of the Soviet empire and the emergence of new countries with large Ismaili populations such as Tajikistan.

More recently, of course, we have faced the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria. But through all of these experiences, the Ismaili peoples have demonstrated an impressive capacity to persevere and to progress.

3. COMMON DENOMINATORS OF THE HUMAN RACE,
CANADA’S LEADERSHIP AND COLLABORATIVE WORK

Our work has always been people-driven. It grows out of the age-old Islamic ethic, committed to goals with universal relevance: the elimination of poverty, access to education, and social peace in a pluralist environment. The AKDN’s fundamental objective is to improve the quality of human life.

Amongst the great common denominators of the human race is a shared aspiration, a common hope, for a better quality of life. I was struck a few years ago to read about a UNDP survey of 18 South American states where the majority of the people were less interested in their forms of government, than in the quality of their lives. Even autocratic governments that improved their quality of life would be more acceptable for most of those polled than ineffective democratic governments.

I cite that study, of course, with due respect to governmental institutions that have had a more successful history — including certain very distinguished parliaments!

But the sad fact behind so much instability in our world today is that governments are seen to be inadequate to these challenges. A much happier fact is that, in the global effort to change this picture, Canada is an exemplary leader.

His Highness the Aga Khan seen smiling in a lighter moment  during his address to both the Houses of the Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Referring to the two gold medals won by the Canadian hockey teams in the Sochi Olympics, the Ismaili Imam remarked, "As an ex-player myself I was hoping you would require your honorary citizens to join your team. I am convinced that the Dalai Lama and I would have been a formidable defence.  Photo credit : The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan seen smiling in a lighter moment during his address to both the Houses of the Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Referring to the two gold medals won by the Canadian hockey teams in the Sochi Olympics, the Ismaili Imam remarked, “As an ex-player myself I was hoping you would require your honorary citizens to join your team. I am convinced that the Dalai Lama and I would have been a formidable defence.” Photo credit : The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

One of our earliest collaborations was to establish the first private nursing school in Pakistan, in cooperation with McMaster and the CIDA of that time. It was the first component of the Aga Khan University — the first private university in that country. 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. Canada was also one of the first donors to the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in Northern Pakistan, tripling incomes in this remote, marginalised area….

I could speak about our close ties with Canadian universities also, such as McMaster, McGill, the University of Toronto, and the University of Alberta, enhancing our own institutions of tertiary education — the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.

The latter institution has resulted from the Imamat’s unique, tripartite treaty with the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It serves some 22 million people who live in Central Asia, in hillside and high mountain environments, areas of acute seismic and economic vulnerability.

I could list many more examples in cultural development and in scientific research. And we are especially proud of the Global Centre for Pluralism here in Ottawa, a joint project of the Imamat and the Canadian government.

4. CANADA’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY AND THE IMAMAT PARTNERSHIP WITH CANADA

In just three years, Canada will mark its 150th anniversary, and the whole world will be ready to celebrate with you. Sharing Canada’s robust pluralistic history, is a core mission of our Global Centre, and 2017 will be a major opportunity for doing so, operating from its headquarters in the former War Museum on Sussex Drive. Perhaps 2017 and the celebrations can be a catalyst with our neighbours to improve the entire riverfront area around that building.

Our partnership in Canada has been immensely strengthened, of course, by the presence for more than four decades of a significant Ismaili community. Like most historic global communities the Ismaili peoples have a variegated history, but surely our experience in Canada has been a particularly positive chapter.

His Highness the Aga Khan signs the visitors books for the House of Commons and the Senate in the Canadian Parliament Rotunda as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen Harper, The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons and the Honourable Noël Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate look on. Photo credit: TheIsmaili/Gary Otte.

His Highness the Aga Khan signs the visitors books for the House of Commons and the Senate in the Canadian Parliament Rotunda as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen Harper, The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons and the Honourable Noël Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, and other individuals look on. Photo credit: TheIsmaili/Gary Otte.

I happily recall the establishment of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat here in 2008 and the Prime Minister’s description that day of our collaborative efforts to make Canada “the headquarters of the global effort to foster peace, prosperity, and equality through pluralism.”

We are deeply pleased that we can sign today a new Protocol with your Government — further strengthening our ongoing platform for cooperation.

As we look to the next 25 years of the AKDN, we believe that our permanent presence in the developing world will make us a dependable partner, especially in meeting the difficult challenges of predictability.

5. THE ISLAMIC UMMAH AND INCLUSIVENESS OF OTHER FAITHS DURING THE ABBASID AND FATIMID ERAS

Against this background, let me move on to the broad international sphere, including the role of relations between the countries and cultures of Islam — what we call the Ummah — and non-Islamic societies. It is central to the shape of global affairs in our time.

I would begin by emphasising a central point about the Ummah often unseen elsewhere: the fundamental fact of its immense diversity. Muslim demography has expanded dramatically in recent years, and Muslims today have highly differing views on many questions.

Essential among them is that they do not share some common, overarching impression of the West. It has become commonplace for some to talk about an inevitable clash of the industrial West and Islamic civilizations. But Muslims don’t see things in this way. Those whose words and deeds feed into that point of view are a small and extreme minority. For most of us, it is simply not true. We find singularly little in our theological interpretations that would clash with the other Abrahamic faiths — with Christianity and Judaism. Indeed, there is much that is in profound harmony.

Officers of the Royal Mounted Canadian Police Salute as His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper walk up the stairs at Parliament Hill on Thursday, February 24, 2014. COC Photo by Jason Ransom

Officers of the Royal Mounted Canadian Police Salute as His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper walk up the stairs at Parliament Hill on Thursday, February 27, 2014. COC Photo by Jason Ransom

The complexity of the Ummah has a long history. Some of the most glorious chapters in Islamic history were purposefully built on the principle of inclusiveness — it was a matter of state policy to pursue excellence through pluralism. This was true from the time of the Abbasids in Baghdad and the Fatimids in Cairo over 1,000 years ago. It was true in Afghanistan and Timbuktu in Mali, and later with the Safavids in Iran, the Mughals in India, the Uzbeks in Bukhara, and Ottomans in Turkey. From the 8th to the 16th century, al-Andalus thrived on the Iberian Peninsula — under Muslim aegis — but also deeply welcoming to Christian and Jewish peoples.

Today, these Islamic traditions have been obscured in many places, from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

6. AGA KHAN TRUST FOR CULTURE
AND THE AGA KHAN MUSEUM

A depiction of the  Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre which  are nearing completion in Toronto, Canada.

A depiction of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre which are nearing completion in Toronto, Canada.

The work of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture….is to revive the memory of this inclusive inheritance. Another immediate initiative is the Aga Khan Museum which will open this year in Toronto, an important testimonial in a Canadian setting to the immense diversity of Islamic cultures.

7. SUNNI AND SHIA TENSIONS AND IMPORTANCE FOR NON-MUSLIMS TO COMMUNICATE WITH BOTH PARTIES

Perhaps the most important area of incomprehension, outside the Ummah, is the conflict between Sunni and Shia interpretations of Islam and the consequences for the Sunni and Shia peoples.

This powerful tension is sometimes even more profound than conflicts between Muslims and other faiths. It has increased massively in scope and intensity recently, and has been further exacerbated by external interventions. In Pakistan and Malaysia, in Iraq and Syria, in Lebanon and Bahrain, in Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan it is becoming a disaster. It is important, therefore, for non-Muslims who are dealing with the Ummah to communicate with both Sunni and Shia voices. To be oblivious to this reality would be like ignoring over many centuries that there were differences between Catholics and Protestants, or trying to resolve the civil war in Northern Ireland without engaging both Christian communities. What would have been the consequences if the Protestant-Catholic struggle in Ireland had spread throughout the Christian world, as is happening today between Shia and Sunni Muslims in more than nine countries? It is of the highest priority that these dangerous trends be well understood and resisted, and that the fundamental legitimacy of pluralistic outlooks be honoured in all aspects of our lives together — including matters of faith.

8. THE WORLD HAS TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO CIVIL SOCIETY

By Civil Society I mean an array of institutions which operate on a private, voluntary basis, but are motivated by high public purposes. They include institutions devoted to education, culture, science and research; to commercial, labor, ethnic and religious concerns; as well as professional societies in law, accounting, banking, engineering and medicine. Civil Society encompasses groups that work on health and safety and environmental matters, organisations that are engaged in humanitarian service, or in the arts or the media.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper in a conversation as they proceed to the signing ceremony of  the protocol of understanding between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada. They are flanked on either side by the flags of the red and green flags of the Ismaili Imamat and the maple leaf of Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper in a conversation as they proceed to the signing ceremony of the protocol of understanding between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada. They are flanked on either side by the red and green flag of the Ismaili Imamat and the maple leaf flag of Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

We see it expanding in many places, from Sub-Saharan Africa to Tunisia and Egypt, from Iran to Bangladesh. At a time of extreme danger in Kenya a few years ago — the beginnings of a civil war — the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, led the way to a peaceful solution which rested heavily on the strength of Kenya’s Civil Society.

Increasingly, I believe, the voices of Civil Society are voices for change, where change has been overdue. They have been voices of hope for people living in fear.

They are voices that can help transform countries of crisis into countries of opportunity. There are too many societies where too many people live in a culture of fear, condemned to a life of poverty. Addressing that fear, and replacing it with hope, will be a major step to the elimination of poverty. And often the call for hope to replace fear will come from the voices of Civil Society.

9. UNDERPINNINGS OF A QUALITY CIVIL SOCIETY

I believe that Canada is uniquely able to articulate and exemplify three critical underpinnings of a quality Civil Society — a commitment to pluralism, to meritocracy, and to a cosmopolitan ethic.

A cosmopolitan ethic is one that welcomes the complexity of human society. It balances rights and duties, freedom and responsibility. It is an ethic for all peoples, the familiar and the Other, whether they live across the street or across the planet.

Quality education is fundamental to the development of a meritocratic Civil Society, and thus to the development of pluralistic attitudes.

The history of Canada has a great deal to teach us in this regard, including the long, incremental processes through which quality civil societies and committed cultures of pluralism are built. One of the watchwords of our new Global Centre for Pluralism is that “Pluralism is a Process and not a Product.” I know that many Canadians would describe their own pluralism as a “work in progress,” but it is also an asset of enormous global quality.

The Old Canadian War Museum will become the future site of the Global Centre for Pluralism, once renovations  are completed inside the building. The Centre is governed by an international Board of Directors chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The Global Centre for Pluralism was inspired by the example of Canada’s inclusive approach to citizenship, and works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, believing that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world.

The Old Canadian War Museum will become the future site of the Global Centre for Pluralism, once renovations are completed inside the building. The Centre is governed by an international Board of Directors chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The Global Centre for Pluralism was inspired by the example of Canada’s inclusive approach to citizenship, and works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, believing that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world.

What more will a quality Civil Society now require of us? Sadly, the world is becoming more pluralist in fact, but not necessarily in spirit. “Cosmopolitan” social patterns have not yet been matched by “a cosmopolitan ethic.” In fact, one harsh reality is that religious hostility and intolerance seems to be on the rise in many places — from the Central African Republic, to South Sudan, to Nigeria, to Myanmar, the Philippines and other countries — both between major religious groups and within them.

Again, Canada has responded in notable ways, including the establishment — just one year ago — of the Office of Religious Freedom. Its challenges, like those facing the Centre for Global Pluralism, are enormous and its contributions will be warmly welcomed. And surely it will also serve as a worthy model for other countries.

In sum, I believe that Civil Society is one of the most powerful forces in our time, one that will become an increasingly universal influence, engulfing more countries, influencing, reshaping and sometimes even replacing ineffective regimes. And I also believe that Civil Society around the world should be vigorously encouraged and wisely nurtured by those who have made it work most successfully — Canada first amongst all.

10. THANK YOU PRIME MINISTER

The Aga Khan Development Network has worked over five decades to assist in the enhancement of Civil Society. And as we look to its future, we are honoured that Canada views us as a valued partner. Thank you Prime Minister. One key to Canada’s success in building a meritocratic Civil Society is your recognition that democratic societies require more than democratic governments.

11. “ENLIGHTENED FULFILLEMENT”
THROUGH VOLUNTARY SERVICES

I have been impressed by recent studies showing the activity of voluntary institutions and not-for-profit organisations in Canada to be among the highest in the world. This Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture — the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others.

This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment — “enlightened self-fulfillment.”

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper sign a Protocol of Understanding further strengthening the ongoing platform of cooperation between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper sign a Protocol of Understanding further strengthening the ongoing platform of cooperation between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

During my Golden Jubilee — and this is important — six years ago Ismailis from around the world volunteered their gifts, not only of wealth, but most notably of time and knowledge, in support of our work. We established a Time and Knowledge framework, a structured process for engaging an immense pool of expertise involving tens of thousands of volunteers. Many of them traveled to developing countries as part of this outpouring of service — one third of those were Canadians. Their impact has been enormous in helping us to achieve best practice standards in our institutions and programmes, making us we hope an even better partner for Canada!

The Aga Khan University in Karachi and East Africa are expanding to create a new Liberal Arts faculty, and to establish eight new post-graduate schools in collaboration with several Canadian universities.

12. SALUTING FRASER MUSTARD FOR HIS WORK
ON EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

We also share with Canada a deep appreciation for the potential of early childhood education. It is the period of the greatest development of the brain. This education is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the quality of life for rural as well as urban populations. Congratulations, Prime Minister, for your initiative on this.

In this regard, let me take a moment to salute the late Dr Fraser Mustard, whose work in Early Childhood Development will impact millions of people around the world. The AKDN has been fortunate to have been inspired and counselled by this great Canadian scientist and humanist.

13. THE OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS TO THE PARLIAMENT

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulate each other after signing a Protocol of Understanding between the Ismaili Imamat, a 1400 year hereditary Institution, and Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulate each other after signing a Protocol of Understanding between the Ismaili Imamat, a 1400 year hereditary Institution, and Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

I am most grateful to the Prime Minister and to you who have given me this opportunity to share — from a faith perspective — some of the issues that preoccupy me when looking ahead. I hope I have explained why I am convinced about the global validity of our partnership for human development.

14. A BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSION FROM THE HOLY QUR’AN

His Highness the Aga Khan seen addressing at the House of Commons Chambers to both the houses of Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 24, 2014. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan seen addressing at the House of Commons Chambers to both the houses of Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

Let me end with a personal thought. As you build your lives, for yourselves and others, you will come to rest upon certain principles. Central to my life has been a verse in the Holy Quran which addresses itself to the whole of humanity. It says:

 ‘Oh Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women.’

I know of no more beautiful expression about the unity of our human race — born indeed from a single soul.

Date posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014. Copyright.
Date last update: Sunday, March 2, 2014, 09:30 EST (new related links, below)

Related:

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For non-comparable referral links to all things Ismaili as well as material about His Highness the Aga Khan’s recent official visit to Canada, please visit ismailimail. For past and recent speeches of Ismaili Imams please visit www.nanowisdoms.org.

Also click on the following links for some extraordinary official coverage of the visit including photographs, videos and speeches:

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