Princess Yasmin Aga Khan on President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan Championing the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Editor’s note: On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, who served at the White House as the First Lady during the term of her husband’s Presidential reign from 1981 until 1989, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 94 at her home in Los Angeles.

Newlyweds Ronald and Nancy Reagan, March 4, 1952.

Newlyweds Ronald and Nancy Reagan, March 4, 1952.

The Former First Lady, who once reminisced that “my life really began when I married my husband,” was the principal caregiver during President Reagan’s decade long twilight with Alzheimer’s disease. When the President first learned that he was diagnosed with  Alzheimer’s, he issued an open letter to the American people  on November 5, 1994 writing:

“I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. ….In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it….as the disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience.”

Following this brave announcement of the diagnosis, Mrs. Reagan used her voice to represent families and increase awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. According to Newsweek magazine, the Former First Lady had also begun talking to Princess Yasmin Aga Khan about her husband’s Alzheimer’s. The princess, whose mother Rita Hayworth also had Alzheimer’s which contributed to the actress’s death at the age of 68, told Mrs. Reagan what to expect in the years to come: the mood changes, what it would be like when your loved one can no longer talk and doesn’t recognize you, how to care for someone who has grown incontinent, how to stimulate swallowing by patting the throat or touching the chin. Nancy was, “of course, devastated, but very brave,” Princess Yasmin told Newsweek.

In mourning the loss of Mrs. Regan last Sunday, the Alzheimer’s Association, of which Princess Yasmin Aga Khan is an Honorary Director, said that “The Alzheimer’s Association mourns the loss of first lady Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan and President Reagan bravely shared his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with the world in 1994….The public disclosure of their Alzheimer’s experience created an enormous and much-needed upsurge of interest in the disease…It was our honor to work with Mrs. Reagan over the years to raise awareness and inspire progress in Alzheimer’s research.”

The late President’s and Mrs. Regan’s advocacy in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease for more than 20 years had been noted much earlier by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan when President Reagan died in 2004. The Princess, daughter of Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth and younger sister of the current 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, has striven for the past 30 years to raise awareness — and much-needed funds — through Alzheimer’s galas honouring her mother. Princess Yasmin’s efforts have raised over $68 million, which combined with other donations, have helped the Alzheimer’s Association make significant progress toward their mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease.

STATEMENT BY PRINCESS YASMIN AGA KHAN FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN

The late 48th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, seated on a wheelchair with members of his family with his successor, the present Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, standing at extreme right. Others in the photo (l to r), grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, and the late Imams two sons, the late Prince Sadruddin and Prince Aly Khan, who is seen holding his daughter Princes Yasmin Aga Khan Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

The late 48th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, seated on a wheelchair with members of his family with his successor, the present Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, standing at extreme right. Others in the photo (l to r), grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, and the Imam’s two sons, the late Prince Sadruddin and Prince Aly Khan, who is seen holding his daughter Princes Yasmin Aga Khan Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

“In 1983, I was honored to join my fellow Alzheimer’s Association board members in the Oval Office when President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Month. We talked with him about Alzheimer’s disease, and heard his concern for the need to support individuals with Alzheimer’s, their families and friends, and the need to eradicate the disease. In his proclamation, President Reagan said, “The emotional, financial and social consequences of Alzheimer’s disease are so devastating that it deserves special attention. Science and clinical medicine are striving to improve our understanding of what causes Alzheimer’s disease and how to treat it successfully. Right now, research is the only hope for victims and families.”

“As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association national board of directors and, as a family member who cared for my mother, Rita Hayworth, for so many years, I mourn the passing of former President of the United States Ronald Reagan and extend my own deepest sympathies to former First Lady Nancy Reagan and the Reagan family. President and Mrs. Reagan have been leading advocates in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease for more than 20 years, and millions of Americans have been helped by their dedication, compassion and efforts to support caregivers, raise public awareness about Alzheimer’s, and substantially increase our nation’s commitment to Alzheimer research. They proved their commitment again when they joined with the Alzheimer’s Association to create the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute, to advance scientific knowledge leading to treatments.

Princess Yasmin at Rita Hayworth Gala.png

Princess Yasmin, 2nd from right, at a recent Alzheimer’s fund raising annual gala held in the memory of her mother Rita Hayworth, who was afflicted with the disease. Photo: Alzheimer’s Association.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is honored that the Reagan family has designated the Association as one of three organizations they recommend to receive contributions in his name. Those who wish to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute, or to family support services, may visit http://www.alz.org. A fitting tribute to Ronald Reagan, his life and legacy, would be to join with the Alzheimer’s Association to create a world without Alzheimer’s disease. It is within our reach.”

Note: Princess Yasmin Aga Khan’s statement was reported by media wire sources, with credit to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Date posted: March 10, 2016.

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Egyptian President al-Sisi Meets His Highness the Aga Khan and Hails AKDN’s Work + Memorial Photo

Alaa Youssef, spokesperson for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said that the President met with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Saturday, February 20, 2016,  and hailed the positive role played by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) which he considered as an example of non-governmental organizations contributing to development in the society and creating jobs. President Sisi also praised the AKDN’s efforts in Egypt, especially in the area of childhood development. [1]

Please click on photos to enlarge

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured with Egypt's President al-Sisi on February 20, 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured with Egypt’s President al-Sisi on February 20, 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

The 49th Ismaili Imam said that he was looking forward to boosting the Network’s activities in various Egyptian cities, referring to AKDN’s projects in Aswan. He added that the foundation plans to finance more projects for the needy segments, especially in the health and educational sectors. His Highness the Aga Khan was in Egypt to deliver the keynote address at the Africa 2016 investment forum in Sharm el Sheikh. Thematic excerpts of the speech will appear on this website during the week of February 22, 2016.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) takes a memorial photo with other heads of state and government and the participating delegations during the Africa 2016 Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 20, 2016. His Highness the Aga Khan is pictured second from right in the front row. The 49th Ismaili Imam will be giving a key note speech at the forum on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at approximately 9:00 am (Cairo Time). Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) takes a memorial photo with other heads of state and government and the participating delegations during the Africa 2016 Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 20, 2016. His Highness the Aga Khan is pictured second from right in the front row. The 49th Ismaili Imam will be giving a key note speech at the forum on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at approximately 9:00 am (Cairo Time). Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi delivers his speech during the opening session of the African international business forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in the South Sinai governorate of Egypt, 20 February 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian presidency.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi delivers his speech during the opening session of the African international business forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in the South Sinai governorate of Egypt, 20 February 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian presidency.

We invite our readers to click on the following exclusive pieces published recently at Simergphotos:

Date posted: February 20, 2016.
Last updated: February 21, 2016.

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[1] Report compiled from the website of Egypt’s State Information Service, http://www.sis.gov.eg/en/.

Pakistan Visit 1961: Exclusive Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, by Abdul M. Ismaily

PLEASE CLICK: Exclusive: Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”)

Please click on image for exclusive photos by Abdul M. Ismaily

Please click on image for exclusive photos by Abdul M. Ismaily

Date posted: February 20, 2016.

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An Anecdote Illustrating the Wisdom and Judgement of His Highness the Aga Khan: “I was Serving No Ordinary Man” by the Late Michael Curtis

Aga Khan Photos by Azhar Chaudhry - 004

His Highness the Aga Khan being greeted by Mr. Michael Curtis of the Nation Group. Photo: Azhar Chaudhry. Sultan Jessa Collection.

Mr. Michael Curtis, a British Fleet Street editor and executive, was introduced to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, just as he had been proclaimed the 49th Ismaili Imam by his grandfather, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III.  His recruitment as a staff of His Highness was intended as a short term assignment as a speech writer and publicity organizer during a series of public appearances in Asia and Africa related to the Aga Khan’s installation as Imam. This brief assignment, however, grew into an engagement with His Highness that spanned several decades. The visionary Michael Curtis — who was noted by UK’s Guardian Newspaper as being 50 years ahead of his time in the paper’s obituary to the journalist — was asked to establish the Nation Media Group, which started publishing the Sunday Nation and subsequently the Daily Nation in Kenya, competing successfully with the existing colonial newspapers, the Tanganyika Standard and the East African Standard. At the culmination of the process of Africanising the Nation Group, Michael Curtis stepped down in 1977, after pioneering the introduction of the first web-offset presses installed outside the United States as well as increasing the Nation’s circulation to 165,000 and a readership reputed to touch three million.

Mr. Curtis moved to His Highness the Aga Khan’s Headquarters in Aiglemont, France, where he oversaw the Ismaili Imamat’s rapidly expanding non-denominational health and educational activities throughout South Asia and East Africa, until his retirement in 1994.

Michael Howard Curtis, who was born in Cambridge in 1920, died from cancer in 2004 at the age 84.

The following is an excerpt from a piece written by Mr. Michael Curtis for the Daily Nation’s special souvenir published on the occasion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s wedding in 1969 to Princess Salimah.

“I was Serving No Ordinary Man”

BY MICHAEL CURTIS (1920 – 2004)

It was 12 years ago in Dar-es-Salaam in October 1957. Prince Karim, His Highness the Aga Khan, was to be installed as successor to his grandfather in the first of a series of elaborate ceremonies to be held that year throughout Africa and Asia.

As personal aide to His Highness, I had gone ahead as part of an advance party and was greeted by the local leaders who told me that a serious problem had arisen. The only other such ceremony in living memory had taken place 72 years before in Bombay, when Aga Khan III had succeeded to the Imamate.

Not surprisingly, there was some doubt about the form the service would take and it seemed that an acute difference of opinion had arisen as to which verses of the Koran should be included. There was clearly nothing to be done but to await a ruling from the Aga Khan himself.

It was an unforgettable scene and took place in one of the state rooms of Government House where the Aga Khan was guest of the Colonial Governor at that time, the late Lord Twining. The Ismaili leaders were seated, as is their custom, cross-legged in a semi-circle around their young Imam and the two factions elaborated their different points of view.

To a non-Muslim the arguments were difficult to follow, but it was clear to me that a strong difference of opinion existed and that the Aga Khan would be called upon to resolve a ticklish point of theological doctrine.

This was the first occasion on which he had been called to exercise the responsibilities bequeathed to him by his grandfather. Still an undergraduate at Harvard, he looked very young, a trifle pale and tense as he listened to the rival claimants. There was a pause as they finished. Then the Aga Khan asked a question which obviously puzzled his followers. “Who,” he asked, “will recite the verses you wish me to decide upon?”

A chorus of voices assured him that a young man from Zanzibar had been procured for the recitation and that his fame as a psalmodist of the Koran was acclaimed far and wide.

“If that is so,” said His Highness, “let this young man suggest those verses in which his ability is most outstanding and thereafter I shall decide which particular chapters and verses will be selected.”

It was a solution that delighted everyone. The opposing factions accepted it gladly, for neither had lost face. The choirboy for certain would sing as he had never sung before — which in truth he did the following afternoon. It was a decision which reflected the instinctive simplicity of true wisdom and first revealed to me that I was serving no ordinary man.

I have related this tale before, and if I repeat it today it is because I know of no other anecdote which more aptly illustrates his wisdom and judgement.

Date posted: February 15, 2016.

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Profile of Mr. Michael Curtis compiled from Wikipedia, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. Please click on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Curtis_(journalist), and the references cited in the article.

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

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

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

Aga Khan 2016 Support Syria Conference London

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

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

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

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

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

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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Date posted: February 4, 2016.

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

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

Hunza Volunteers

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

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

Please click on photo for enlargement

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Marvellous Collection of Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visits to Canada, India and Greece

Editor’s note: In Part II of a special series on the 49th Ismaili Imam’s visits to numerous countries that he undertook during 2015, we cover India (April), Canada (May) and Greece (September). Please click A Marvellous Collection of Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visits to Canada, India and Greece.

Please click on photo for complete story and more pictures. Photo: Ontario Liberal Part. Copyright. Published with permission.

Please click on photo for complete story and more pictures. Photo: Ontario Liberal Part. Copyright. Published with permission.

Readings for the Mawlid of Prophet Muhammad (May Peace Be Upon Him)

Mawlid or Miladun Nabi is the observance of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, and is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. With the Islamic lunar calendar consisting of 354 days over a 12 month period, this celebration occurred earlier in 2015 during the first week in January, and will be commemorated once again on December 22 or 23.

The twelve months of the Muslim calendar and major Muslim festivals. Image by Simerg.

The twelve months of the Muslim calendar and major Muslim festivals. Image by Simerg.

To mark the Mawlid, we present you pieces by two fine writers, Michael Wolfe of the USA, who produced the highly acclaimed documentary Muhammad Legacy of the Prophet,  and Izzat Muneyb of England, who contributed to the Ta’lim curriculum developed at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.

As we remember our beloved Prophet, the Khatim an-Nabiyin (the seal of the Prophets) and the Al-Amin (the Trustworthy), we wish everyone a very happy and joyful Milad. The readings commence with a very pertinent message on the Prophet Muhammad by none other than His Highness the Aga Khan, the present 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismailis, who is lineally descended  from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the first Imam.

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THE HOLY PROPHET

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

By His Highness the Aga Khan

I have observed in the Western world a deeply changing pattern of human relations. The anchors of moral behaviour appear to have dragged to such depths that they no longer hold firm the ship of life: what was once wrong is now simply unconventional, and for the sake of individual freedom must be tolerated. What is tolerated soon becomes accepted. Contrarily, what was once right is now viewed as outdated, old-fashioned and is often the target of ridicule.

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?

There is no justification for delaying the search for the answer to this question by the Muslims of the world, because we have the knowledge that Islam is Allah’s final message, the Qur’an His final book and Muhammad His last Prophet. We are blessed that the answers drawn from these sources guarantee that neither now, nor at any time in the future will we be going astray.

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….Excerpt from Presidential Address by His Highness the Aga Khan, Seerat Conference, Pakistan, 1976.

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HOW A MUSLIM SEES MUHAMMAD

Michael Wolfe - author, poet and producer of award winning books and documentaries. Photo and profile credit: Wikipedia.

By Michael Wolfe

A lot of non-Muslims who know something about Islam as a religious practice are nonetheless in the dark when it comes to real knowledge of Muhammad. This, despite the fact that Muhammad is the guiding, human spirit of the religion.

Muslims see Muhammad as a human being who became a prophet and yet remained human all his life. He had a special access to God’s words, but he also worked for a living, married, and had children, led his people out of oppression and died at the age of 63 with his family at his side. They see him, that is, not the way Christians view Jesus but rather in the tradition of prophets like Abraham and Moses.

Muhammad never claimed to be divine, and he never attributed supernatural powers to himself. From the age of forty until his death, his mission was simply to convey a message, contained in the Qur’an, and to illustrate its spirit in his daily life. Muhammad received the Qur’an a few verses at a time, intermittently, over this long, eventful period, and he rendered it into language people could understand. That, he said, was his only miracle. He did not defy gravity or return the dead to life. He rebuked anyone who suggested otherwise.

Muslims have no pictures to suggest what he may have looked like. Their focus is on his message, not his face. If you spend any time at all with Muslims, you soon begin to see that they know Muhammad’s words and actions and quote them frequently.

This quotable aspect of the tradition is seemingly inexhaustible, running to thousands of pages. Together with the Qur’an, they form a cannon on which Islamic Law is based. In a less formal way, these reports of what Muhammad said and did are put to use daily as a yardstick against which people measure their actions and intentions.

Just as the words of Jesus are woven into the fabric of every European language so that, believer or not, most everyone knows who to credit with phrases like “Turn the other cheek,” “the meek shall inherit the earth,” and “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” so too for many Muslims the words of Muhammad are on the tips of their tongues and easily recognized.

In the published collections, these reports are often grouped by category, in sections with titles like “The Book Of Knowledge,” or “The Book of Prayer.”

“The Book of Knowledge” is both instructive and occasionally wry. What better sentence to write on the black board, for instance, than “Asking good questions is half of learning.” A page or two later, the value of knowledge is summed up in these terms: “People with knowledge and those who seek it are the only two groups of any use to humanity.” While truth’s poor keepers are succinctly dismissed, as in this gem: “Three agents destroy religion: an ill-tempered scholar, a tyrannical leader, and an ignorant theologian.”

“The Book of Charity” contains this unexpected advice: “Happy are those who find fault with themselves instead of finding fault with others.”

Morality is often expressed in terms so simple they arrest you, as in this maxim: “Avoid anything that requires an excuse.” At other times, the terms are earthy and even humorous: “If people had been forbidden to make porridge of camel dung, they would do it, saying that it wouldn’t be forbidden unless there was some good in it.”

And here is Muhammad on Humility: “Strength does not lie in carrying heavy loads: a camel can do that. The essence of strength lies in taming your temper and your anger.”

These statements full of wisdom were mostly coined on the spot, in response to particular situations, by a man aware of the limits of his knowledge. He only knew, he said, what God would show him.

Here is what God showed Muhammad about prayer: “During prayer, God lifts the veils and opens the gates of the invisible, so that His servant is standing in front of Him. Prayer creates a secret connection between the one praying and the One prayed to – Prayer is a threshold at the entrance to God’s reality.”

And what does the great Hindu sage Mahatma Gandhi say about Muhammad’s words? “They are among the treasures of Mankind, not merely Muslims…. A reverent study of the sayings of the different teachers of mankind is a step in the direction of… mutual respect.”

© Copyright: Michael Wolfe.  Reproduced with the kind permission of Michael Wolfe.

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IN PRAISE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD
(May Peace Be Upon Him)

By Izzat Muneyb

Author’s note: This song introduces us to some of the titles by which Prophet Muhammad came to be known. They are: ‘Ahmad’, ‘Mustafa’, ‘Rahmatan li’l-‘aalameen and ‘King of law laak’. The words ‘law laak’ in Arabic mean, “Were it not for…” There is a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad, where Allah speaking to His prophet, says, “Were it not for you, I would not have created the universe – law laaka lamaa khalaqtu’l-aflaaka.” [1]

N.B: The lines marked * are sung twice.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Ahmad?*
He who is praised in heaven
Shall be praised here on earth.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Mustafa?*
The Chosen of God on earth,
You have brought us the Qur’an.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Rahmatan li’l-‘aalameen?*
God sent you as a Mercy
To the whole of creation.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you the ‘King of law laak’?*
Even God says He created
The universe for you.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb.

Date posted: December 20, 2015.

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[1] Source: Sukheel Sharif, The Jawziyyah Institute, 2006

We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment.

RELATED: Please also click Nativity of the Prophet Muhammad: The Mevlud/Mawlid Tradition to read an excellent piece contributed by Omid Safi.

A Reflection on the Land Grant Ceremony of the New World Class Aga Khan University Hospital to be Built in Uganda

Partnership for Change

Aga Khan and Musoveni at the Land Grant CeremonyBY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE

The sacred space is set
The energy is invoked
The earth’s ochre red
Makes a path through the green.
Reflected in the Ismaili and Uganda flag
The logo of the university
Radiating, rippling outwards

Our world of rapid change
Meets in Uganda to break the ground
Nakawa is chosen to propel
the University Hospital

To reach beyond its borders
The frontiers of Science
Radiation ever outwards

Decades of decay at Mulago
A new seed of hope is planted
Pioneering pluralism
In Uganda’s rich soil
Revitalizing the land
For life long learning
Radiating ever outwards

Coat of Arms Uganda, AKU Logo, Flags Uganada and Ismaili ImamatThe President and Imam’s vision
Bringing to the region
Appropriate advanced Health Care
The people can access
Here at home the very best
The youth empowered to remain
Here at home to give their best practices
Expanding ever outwards

The people rejoice with lush voices
Their partners join hands to celebrate
This great milestone laid by the red bricks
That fulfills the words of the anthem
That ever propel outwards

Aga Khan Musoveni Kampala

Salute to the President and Imam for
Their vision, their respect
For national progress
Global standards of excellence
To be in the frontier of scientific
and humanistic knowledge

The best in the world
Propelling expanding ever outward
An emblematic crown over Uganda

Date posted: December 18, 2015.

Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg

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Nakawa – an area in the city of Kampala.
Mulago – The hospital located on Mulago Hill in Kampala.

Links to stories and videos of the Land Grant Ceremony of the new Aga Khan University Teaching Hospital to be built in Uganada:

Please also visit:
http://www.theismaili.org
http://www.akdn.org
http://www.ismailimail.wordpress.com.

Also, http://www.nanowisdoms.org is an excellent resource for speeches of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

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