Introduction: Though discreet and always working behind the scenes, Prince Amyn’s contribution to the Imamat institutions have been influential and impactful. In Simerg’s continuing series on thanking Ismaili historical figures, Azeem Maherali of Atlanta, USA, gives a rare glimpse of a remarkable contemporary historical figure from the Imam’s family whose commitment for human dignity and humanism is reflected by his creative ingenuity in multiple dimensions of human endeavor.
July 4, 2012.
Dear Prince Amyn,
While I was still a “toto”, my mom frequently showed me and my brother pictures of the Noorani family and told us how you were always by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s side. I can honestly not remember seeing any pictures of Mawlana Hazar Imam without you, until well after he became the Imam, requiring him to travel extensively to see the jamats while you were still at Harvard. This sentiment carried on in the stories that my father shared with us, about Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the 1950s sending Mawlana Hazar Imam on special missions to visit the jamats in East Africa and South Asia. Even then, you were always with him.
Then later on in the late 1960s, when Mawlana Hazar Imam informed the world wide jamat of your decision to leave the United Nations and to join the Imam in improving the quality of life of the jamats everywhere, the jamats were jubilant. Subsequently, various jamats had the good fortune of being in your presence on various Imamat related works, and at times you brought special messages from our beloved Hazar Imam.
For more than four decades now, perhaps even longer, you have dedicated your entire life in the service of the Institution of Imamat, channeling your leadership and energy in numerous Imamat endeavours benefiting both jamati and non-jamati constituencies. Given that Mawlana Hazar Imam rarely speaks about the work of the members of his family; graciously directing compliments to the jamati leadership and countless volunteers, I do recollect a very rare instance that took place in Lisbon in July 1998. Mawlana Hazar Imam referring to you stated that he deeply valued your time, talent, thought and creativity for many of the exceptional projects that had been developed for the Jamats around the world. Mawlana Hazar Imam continued to say that in many ways you exemplified the true spirit of service in Islam – seeking no recognition.
Prince, we have witnessed and continue to witness your immense love, loyalty and respect for our beloved Hazar Imam. You continue to be an epitome of inspiration in the service of the Imam, the Institution of Imamat, worldwide Jamats, greater Muslim Ummah and humanity. You are “living history”: Brother par excellence; patron of arts and culture; trusted advisor to many; trustee of civilizations past, present and future; an optimistic yet pragmatic futurist; and a great humanist; highly regarded and well-liked by many.
Even as I say, “I thank you and celebrate you!”…emotions, feeling and words fail in my efforts to express my sincerest appreciation for the tremendous work that you are doing. The constellation of your engagements, activities, appointments and accolades, is a humble attempt to provide a short tribute to you, however inadequate as it may be.
I remain inspired and in awe,
PRINCE AMYN MOHAMMAD AGA KHAN
Date of birth: September 12, 1937.
Relationship to Head of Family, His Highness the Aga Khan: Younger brother of His Highness the Aga Khan (born December 13, 1936), direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.).
Father: Prince Aly Soloman Khan (1911 – 1960).
Mother: Princess Tajudawllah Aga Khan (1908–1997).
Sister: Princess Yasmin Aga Khan (born December 28, 1948).
Uncle: Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933 – 2003).
Niece: Princess Zahra Aga Khan (born September 18, 1970).
Nephews: Prince Rahim Aga Khan (October 12, 1971), Prince Hussain Aga Khan (April 10, 1974) and Prince Aly Muhammad Aga Khan (March 7, 2000).
Constellation of Engagements, Activities, Appointments and Accolades
I. Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) - 1969 to present. 
1. Director of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF);
2. Member of the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and Chairman of its Executive Committee;
3. Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC);
4. Member of the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM); and
5. Chairman of the Aga Khan Museum (AKM) Oversight Committee.
II. Aga Khan Association for Ismaili Scouts , Karachi, Pakistan.
1. Chief World Ismaili Scouts. 
III. Museé du Louvre, Paris, France. 
1. Member of the Board of Directors – Friends of the Louvre;
2. Member of the Acquisitions Board; and
3. Cercle Cressent (Crescent Circle) Patron.
IV. Opera National de Paris, Paris, France. 
V. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France. 
VI. World Monuments Fund (WMF) – International. 
1. Member of the Board of Trustees
VII. The Silk Road Project – International. 
1. Founding Supporter via AKTC;
2. Member of the Board of Directors;
3. Sustaining Patron; and
4. Advisor to the Silk (Road) Encounters Project Educational Programs.
VIII. New Cities Foundation (NCF) – International. 
1. Member of the Board of Trustees.
IX. Sotheby’s - International. 
1. Member of the Advisory Board.
United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (1964 – 1968)
Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, by the French Minister of Culture and Communication, M. Frédéric Mitterrand, 2010-11-09.
BA Magna Cum Laude and MA from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University 
STATEMENTS HONOURING HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN AND PRINCE AMYN AGA KHAN
On November 9, 2010, Prince Amyn Aga Khan and His Highness the Aga Khan were decorated by the French Government for their work in culture. The following is a partial statement by the French Minister for Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterrand, from a lengthy tribute to both His Highness and Prince Amyn:
Dear Prince Amyn,
I have the very great honour of welcoming you here today as individuals who are cosmopolitan in essence, pluralist by religion, and outward-looking through education, and who have magnificently perpetuated a long family tradition of advocating pluralism and social and cultural engagement throughout the world. Of Italian and British parentage, your culture is Indian, you grew up in Nairobi and were educated in Switzerland and America: the planet is truly your home; openness, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue are your heritage. You have each made your mark on the contemporary world.
In paying tribute to you this evening, we are reminded that the Ismaili faith, through its message of peace and bridge-building, is more than ever at the forefront of dialogue between the great monotheist religions. Wherever Ismailis live, we find the particular combination of meditation, tolerance and solidarity that characterises your community. Since the nineteenth century the Ismaili faith has masterfully demonstrated, through its international network of charitable organisations, that its spiritual beliefs are anchored in the secular world….” 
TRIBUTE TO PRINCE AMYN WITH PROFILE
Then in a separate tribute to Prince Amyn, Minister Mitterrand, said:
“Prince Amyn Aga Khan,
“It is an immense pleasure and a real honour to pay tribute tonight to a man of the arts, a man of refinement with a keen interest in heritage, and a passionate devotion to French and international culture.
“…Since you are, among other things, the best minister of culture His Highness, your brother, could dream of, dear Prince Amyn, in the name of the French Republic, we present you with the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.” 
The following excerpts continue from the same speech made by the French Minister of Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, aptly summarizing Prince Amyn’s profile:
“A worthy heir to a family that continually expresses its support for cultural pluralism and has been involved in international work for several generations, you are today the head of many prestigious institutions working to improve the lives of peoples across the world. Like your grandfather, who was President of the League of Nations, and your father, Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations, after attaining academic success, you now work within the prestigious institution that keeps daily watch on the world, the same United Nations, where you have been a member of the Economic and Social Council since 1965.
“In 1968 you were already bringing your dynamism and open-mindedness to the administration of the Imamat’s main development institutions. The strength of your international network and the influence you have demonstrated enable you to play a crucial role there, notably within the Aga Khan Development Network. As a Director of the Aga Khan Foundation, your work in over fifteen countries has enabled you to strengthen and modernise the philanthropic tradition of the Ismaili Muslim community.
“As a member of the Board, and Executive Committee Chairman of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which aims to promote entrepreneurship and the creation of healthy, sustainable economic organisations in the world’s developing regions, you have brought a new vitality and fresh opportunities to populations too often forgotten or isolated. You generously believe that any return on investment must benefit the populations of the countries involved, and them alone.
“You have also, with exemplary dedication, contributed to the development of Tourism Promotion Services (TPS), which seeks to develop tourism in certain areas of developing countries, notably in more isolated regions, by building, renovating and managing the tourist accommodation that is crucial to the vitality of local economies.
“…As a Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), you play a major role in revitalising the physical, social, cultural and economic environment of communities in the Muslim world…
“I must not forget your function as administrator in an institution dear to my own heart: the World Monuments Fund (WMF), the world’s leading private international organisation devoted to the preservation of historic monuments and sites on all five continents….
“Lastly I should like to recall, of course, your work as a patron of French culture and heritage. As a great art collector, with an informed passion for heritage, you regularly work alongside prestigious institutions to support them in carrying through their cultural projects.
“The greatest French cultural institutions have benefited from your assistance. Reeling off a list of names is not sufficient to illustrate the scope of your engagement. I am thinking of course of the Association pour le rayonnement de l’Opéra de Paris [organisation promoting the development and influence of the Paris Opera], and also of the Louvre, of which you are a patron and with which you are actively involved as a Board member of the Société des Amis du Louvre [Friends of the Louvre]…
And now, if I may, I should like to return to the Château de Chantilly, whose Grande Singerie [Great Monkey Room], centrepiece of the grand apartment of the Princes of Condé and the chateau’s finest decorative ensemble, was restored in 2007 through the joint action of the World Monuments Fund and the Fondation pour la sauvegarde et le développement du domaine de Chantilly [Foundation for the Protection and Development of the Chantilly Estate], founded on the initiative of your brother.” 
EXCERPTS FROM A SELECTION OF PRINCE AMYN AGA KHAN’S SPEECHES. 
1. Remarks at the Signing of the Renewal of the Partnership Agreement Between AKF Portugal and the Patriarchate Of Lisbon, 2012-05-09
“The renewal of the partnership agreement between the Patriarchate of Lisbon and the Portugal chapter of the Aga Khan Foundation represents yet another milestone in the long-standing relationship that the AKF, the wider Aga Khan Development Network and indeed the Ismaili Imamat have enjoyed with the Patriarchate of Lisbon, as well as the secular institutions of this country.
The focus of our joint efforts to date has been on helping those who face poverty as well as economic and social exclusion. The initiative, as many of you know, involves 20 entities associated with the Catholic Church that have been traditionally involved in alleviating poverty and assisting those in need. The noble tradition of helping the less fortunate has also been interwoven into the history of the Ismaili Imamat and its institutions worldwide.
In determining the best way to alleviate social exclusion, we found that providing training and increasing the beneficiaries’ ability to help themselves is crucial in allowing those on the margins of society to break the vicious circle of poverty.”
2. Speech for the official opening of Dushanbe Serena Hotel, 2011-11-01
“Like all Serenas, this hotel observes strict standards of environmental friendliness, both in terms of the product but also in terms of energy conservation, recycling of effluents and hard and soft landscaping. We pride ourselves that all Serenas (and we now have 34 in operation internationally and three more in progress) go beyond existing environmental laws, regulations and minimum requirements and in fact, through new techniques and approaches, set new benchmarks. Like all Serenas, this hotel will also engage in a programme of corporate social responsibility, assisting and working with various local village organizations, technical and educational institutions and civic groups, civil society.”
3. Speech at the Inauguration of the Restoration the Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique, 2010-12-16
“Our goals in this project have been set very high. … Polana has recently been certified ISO 14001 compliant, which means that the hotel has received the most prestigious compliance certification from the International Environment Management System, and is recognised as being in the forefront, in its standards and practices, where environmental impacts and performance are concerned. Here too, I believe the Polana Serena is currently the only hotel in Mozambique to have received this certification.”
4. Speech at the inauguration of “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book and Calligraphy”, Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul, 2010-11-05
“It is my hope that the collection presented here will provide the public with an appreciation of the pluralism of Muslim cultures emanating from different and varied regional and historic aesthetics, some as different as those characteristic of the Mughul Empire or of the Egyptian Fatimids, but that all nevertheless shows the unity of Muslim cultures as well as their pluralism. Unity within diversity. These are essential aspects of the arts of Islam (both the diversity and the unity) which I feel are too often forgotten nowadays, within the Muslim world and outside of it. As the exhibition shows, both the ethic and the aesthetics of Islam are cosmopolitan.”
5. Speaking at the International Finance Corporation breakfast, in Istanbul, Turkey, 2009-10-04
“ … The general framework for the creation and efficient operations of such Civil Society Organizations lies, in our view, in what we call an Enabling Environment and here local governments have a role to play, by ensuring legislation and its enforcement that encourages and protects private initiative and entrepreneurship and by supporting, with all the means at their disposal, the creation of an active and buoyant private sector.
“Furthermore there are possibilities for collaborative efforts which bring Government and the private sector together in public/private partnerships. These are proving to be an increasingly useful tool, one that is resilient and permits the assets and abilities of each party to be most productively used.”
6. Statement at the 10th German World Bank Forum “The Asian Century: Challenges in the Economic Crisis” (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2008-11-20
“AKDN unlike many other development agencies, gives equal weight to both the for-profit and the not-for-profit sides of our work, seeking to create models, set benchmarks and standards and develop local human resources. … Sustainability is central to our mission, whether it be in microfinance institutions or in medical and educational institutions or in restored historical sites, monuments and urban parks; and we believe that discipline, both financial and operational, cost-effective budgets, all the necessary control systems, appropriate planning and strategic positioning, transparency and good governance are all essential. All our initiatives, be they economic, social or cultural, aim to generate new income for the residents of the areas in which we work and to improve the quality of life of the population where we work. When we withdraw from our projects or programmes we seek to leave behind institutions and a civil society that are, or have become stable, competent and self-reliant.
“AKDN is also increasingly conscious of the capacity for public service within the private sector. In recent years, the phrase “Public Private Partnerships”, otherwise known as PPP’s, has become means for different sectors of society to work together in a spirit of mutual trust and to the national benefit. For example, local communities can donate land for the construction of new health centres, while government largely finances the construction of these centres and AKDN provides training for professionals who work in these centres.”
7. Speech on the occasion of the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Revitalisation of Forodhani Park (Zanzibar), 2008-01-28
“Restoring Forodhani Park is part of AKTC’s long-term objective to revitalise the historic seafront of Stone Town as a major contribution to the social, cultural and economic development of this island. It is our hope that AKTC will bring its technical expertise and managerial assistance to the Government of Zanzibar, in a public private partnership, to ensure both an urban and an environmental regeneration of this central, this core area of the seafront of Stone Town. And let us not forget that Stone Town is a World Heritage Site, with an urban fabric and a townscape that have remained largely intact through the centuries, boasting several fine, indeed unique buildings.”
8. Speech at The Enabling Environment Conference (Kabul, Afghanistan), 2007-06-04
“Our AKDN experience has taught us that development is an integrated phenomenon that must be approached and implemented within an integrated framework, covering simultaneously the material, social and cultural requirements and desires of citizens. Work, good health, knowledge and the access to knowledge, security, faith and spiritual life, the arts, pleasing and stable built and natural environments, physical activity – all go hand in hand in creating a life which is full, which is rewarding.’
9. Statement Delivered by Prince Amyn Aga Khan on Behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network at the International Donor’s Conference (Islamabad, Pakistan), 2005-11-19
“Our overall goal has been to build new capacity and pluralist civil society institutions for the transition from humanitarian relief to a sustained self improvement in quality of life, characterised by a freedom of choice and opportunity that is offered to each individual.
“In order to enable the AKDN, in collaboration with its partners, to support rehabilitation and capacity building efforts, I am happy to say that my brother, His Highness the Aga Khan, will be committing $50 million, in a combination of financial and technical support, over the next three years. This is an addition to his donation of $500,000 to the government of Pakistan for immediate emergency assistance, and the more than $3 million that AKDN agencies have put towards relief efforts so far.’
10. Address at the first meeting of the Ismaili Economic Forum (Ismaili Center Dubai, UAE), 2008-04-26 
“The Ismaili Centre which unites in its construction and décor the experiences and aesthetics of the past with the materials of the present in order to meet the needs and objectives of the future, would seem an ideal venue for this conference, and that, all the more so, as in this Centre, we will aim to promote exchanges of knowledge, of creativity and of experience in the pursuit of excellence and of wisdom.
“… It is clear that economic progress and social development are intimately linked and that one cannot go without the other. This is largely true in the developed world and I think entirely true in the developing world. Businesses nowadays have to be concerned not only with questions of good governance but with questions of social impact, of social outreach. As you know, in many AKFED companies, we have specific programmes aimed at environmental action or at the health and education of the societies in which we work and particularly those from which our employees come. Here in my view, partnerships within the Jamat would be particularly well-placed to engage in such a social outreach, as we have available both knowledge and activities in the spheres of health, education and even in planning and building.”
Notes and References:
. “The Aga Khan Development Network is a framework of institutions and agencies founded by Mowlana Hazar Imam to realise the social conscience of Islam through institutional action, bringing together under one coherent aegis, institutions and programmes whose combined mandate is to improve living conditions and opportunity and to help relieve society of ignorance, disease and deprivation. In each territory in which they operate, institutions and agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network pursue programmes for the common good of all peoples, regardless of their origin, gender or religion. The Collective focus of the institutions and agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network is the creative application of the ethics of Islamic tradition to the circumstances of humanity.” Article 6.4 from The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, 1998-07-11
. Prince Amyn Muhammad, by Farshid Machiwala. Please click Prince Amyn Aga Khan.
. Founded in 1793 as a museum for all, it celebrates humanity’s long journey with the remarkable scope of a collection that spans thousands of years, reaches from America to the borders of India and China. “Museum among Museums” – On a scale unrivaled anywhere in the world, these accumulated riches make the Louvre a focal point for permanent dialogue between past and present, and a place of learning, delight, and discovery for millions of visitors of all backgrounds. A museum for all by virtue of the sheer variety of its collection, the Louvre further highlights its universal reach via the diversity of its 8.5 million annual visitors and an ongoing determination to make contact with the widest possible French and international audience
. Founded by Louis XIV in 1669, Opera National de Paris is a reputed company that produces classical ballet and modern opera.
. Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts), a museum of the decorative arts and design, located in the Palais du Louvre’s western wing The museum collection was originally founded in 1905. Today, boasting some 150,000 objects, the collections are privileged testaments to the French art of living, the savoir-faire of its craftsmen and industrialists, the research and creativity of its artists, the passion of its collectors, the generosity of our donors and the desire to pass these riches on to others.
. World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization dedicated to saving the world’s most treasured places. WMF’s mission is to preserve the world’s architectural heritage of significant monuments, buildings, and sites. Since 1965, in more than 90 countries, WMF experts have been racing against time, applying proven techniques to preserve important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the globe.
. The Silk Road Project is an internationally minded performing arts nonprofit with cultural and educational missions to promote innovation and learning through the arts. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma founded the Project in 1998 taking inspiration from the historical Silk Road trading routes and using the Silk Road as a modern metaphor for sharing and learning across cultures, art forms and disciplines.
. The New Cities Foundation (NCF) is a global platform for innovation and exchange on the future of urbanization. The NCF is guided by the principle that the unprecedented rate of urban growth that defines the 21st century represents a unique set of challenges as well as a chance to build more sustainable, vibrant, innovative and equitable communities in the developed and the emerging world. NCF sees cities as humanity’s most important source of innovation, creativity and wealth-creation. NCF believe that achieving the vision of building more sustainable and dynamic urban communities can only be done through innovative partnership. NCF serves a unique role in developing new models of collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors.
. Sotheby’s was founded in London on March 11, 1744. Sotheby’s quickly expanded beyond books to include the best in fine and decorative arts and jewellery. Since 1744, Sotheby’s has distinguished itself as a leader in the auction world.
. Aga Khan Museum Catalog, Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum – Arts of the Book & Calligraphy, page VI – Sabanci University Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul, November 5, 2010 — February 27, 2011 – also available online Aga Khan Museum – Istanbul Catalog
. Partial statement by the French Minister for Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterrand, from a lengthy tribute to both His Highness and Prince Amyn on the investure of decorations by the French Government. Complete speech available at AKDN – Frédéric Mitterrand; press release at French Government Bestows Honors
. All speech excerpts of Prince Amyn are taken from the website of www.akdn.org, unless otherwise specified.
About the writer: Azeem Maherali, originally of Ottawa, Canada, is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia. His previous contributions on this website are:
1. Titles, Decorations and Honours Conferred on 48th Ismaili Imam
2. Honorary Degrees Conferred on His Highness the Aga Khan since 1967
3. Part II – Worldwide Honours For Prince Karim Aga Khan
4. Part I – Worldwide Honours For Prince Karim Aga Khan
We invite your contribution for the thank you series. Please click on Thanking Ismaili Historical Figures to read about the series and links to published letters.
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