THE AGA KHAN UNIVERSITY
When the Charter of the University was first granted in 1983, His Highness the Aga Khan concluded his speech on the occasion with the words, “In everything we do we must look to the future, seeking always to think creatively, to innovate and to improve.”
In 2003, on the 20th anniversary of the University’s founding His Highness the Aga Khan said in his convocation address, “My great hope and prayer is that, in time to come, Aga Khan University will be only one of hundreds of universities in the Muslim world that are on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems.”
During his 2006 convocation, the 49th Ismaili Imam, spoke about the Knowledge Society, and urged the Muslim Ummah to “become full and even leading participants in the Knowledge Society of the 21st century. That will mean embracing the values of collaboration and coordination, openness and partnership, choice and diversity – which will under-gird the Knowledge Society, learning constantly to review and revise and renew what we think we know, learning how to go on learning. The spirit of the Knowledge Society is the spirit of Pluralism – a readiness to accept the Other, indeed to learn from him, to see difference as an opportunity rather than a threat.
“Such a spirit must be rooted, I believe, in a sense of humility before the Divine, realising that none of us have all the answers, and respecting the broad variety of God’s creation and the diversity of the Human Family.”
THE SEAL OF THE AGA KHAN UNIVERSITY
The Seal of Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles which underlie the founding of the University. The circular form of the Seal, with its different levels of imagery contained in concentric circles, has its visual roots in the rosettes of early Islamic periods. The circle also symbolises the world and reflects the international presence of the University.
At the centre of the Seal is a star, or sun. Light is a universal symbol for the enlightenment that education provides.The light emanating from the star is also symbolic of Nur (Divine light).
The star incorporates 49 points to commemorate the University’s founding by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the forty-ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
The outer ring circumscribes a Quranic Ayat rendered in classic thuluth script and reads as follows:
“And hold fast, All together, by the rope
Which God (stretches out for you),
And be not divided among yourselves,
And remember with gratitude
God’s favour on you:
For ye were enemies
And He joined your hearts
In love, so that by His grace
Ye became brethren” — Sura 3, Ayat 103
THE CHANCELLOR’S ELEGANT JAMIAPOASH
The academic regalia of the Aga Khan University (AKU) worn during convocation, such as the one that is expected to take place on Thursday, December 19, 2013, is called Jamiapoash.
Jamia is from the Arabic meaning ‘institution of higher learning’ and poash is from Persian meaning ‘apparel.’ The Jamiapoash comprises a Khila’at, meaning “robe of honour” in Arabic and a Sirpoash, meaning “headwear” in Persian, with a tassel on the right.
The Khila’at for the Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, who built the University, is distinguished by its very elaborate and intricate gold embroidery on the upper part of the robe both back and front, but is also unique for its white colour.
White and gold were the colours of the coat of arms of the Fatimids of Egypt, who founded al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning. The foundation ceremony of the Aga Khan University was performed one thousand years after the founding of the al-Azhar University in 970 by His Highness the Aga Khan’s ancestor, Caliph-Imam Mawlana al-Muizz, during Fatimid rule.
The Sirpoash for the Chancellor is white in colour and richly gold-embroidered with a 5.5 cm band and a 2 cm secondary green band with a green and white tassel.
Date posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO OUR READERS: We urge ALL our readers to view and download the excellent Aga Khan Development Network publications by clicking on AKDN Publications. The publications are outstanding, and will illustrate the vastness of the work of the Ismaili Imamat in all areas of human endeavour. They are also very well explained and illustrated, and will prove useful for educational projects and presentations.