Date posted: May 14, 2016.
Date posted: May 14, 2016.
Lisbon’s Palácio Henrique de Mendonçae is a historical building located in an extremely exclusive neighbourhood, and is part of a panoramic green area of three hectares in the heart of the city. The turn-of-the-century palace combines stunning architecture and traditional Portuguese interiors. It was designed between 1900 and 1902 by Ventura Terra and completed in 1909, when it was awarded the Valmor Prize. The prize is named after the Viscount of Valmor, Fausto Queirós Guedes (1837-1898), who was a protector of the arts. The prize is one of the most prestigious national awards in Portugal for architecture and distinguishes reputable works and projects.
The Official Gazette of Portugal contains all up-to-date enacted laws, decree-laws and ministerial orders. The following is a resolution by Portugal’s Council of Ministers published in the Gazette that authorizes the sale of the palace to the Ismaili Imamat. We hope to provide our readers with an accurate English translation of the Portuguese text in the near future. Readers may wish to utilize Google translate to obtain a free translation in English or other languages.
Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.º 27/2016 – Diário da República n.º 89/2016, Série I de 2016-05-09. Presidência do Conselho de Ministros
Determina como de excecional interesse público e autoriza a venda do imóvel denominado Palácio Henrique de Mendonça, ou Ventura Terra ao Imamat Ismaili, com vista ao estabelecimento da sua sede em Portugal.
Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.º 27/2016
O Palácio Henrique de Mendonça/Casa Ventura Terra, situado na Rua Marquês da Fronteira, em Lisboa, é um edi-fício de características únicas, tendo sido galardoado como Prémio Valmor e Arquitetura e classificado como Imóvel de Interesse Público, em 1982. Neste Palácio, encontra -se instalada parte da Faculdade de Economia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
O Imamat Ismaili, que a Fundação Aga Khan tem representado, celebrou, com a República Portuguesa, o «Protocolo de Cooperação entre o Governo da República Portuguesa e o Imamat Ismaili», assinado em Lisboa, em 19 de dezembro de 2005, aprovado pelo Decreto n.º 11/2006, de 15 de março.
Adicionalmente, foi celebrado o «Protocolo de Cooperação Internacional entre o Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros da República Portuguesa e o Imamat Ismaili», assinado em 11 de julho de 2008.
Em 8 de maio de 2009, foi assinado, em Lisboa, o «Acordo entre a República Portuguesa e o Imamat Ismaili», que foi aprovado pela Resolução da Assembleia da República n.º 109/2010, de 24 de setembro, e ratificado pelo Decreto do Presidente da República n.º 94/2010, de 24 de setembro.
Posteriormente, a 3 de junho de 2015, foi assinado o «Acordo entre a República Portuguesa e o lmamat Ismaili para o Estabelecimento da Sede do Imamat lsmaili em Portugal», aprovado pela Resolução da Assembleia da República n.º 135/2015, de 27 de outubro, e ratificado pelo Decreto do Presidente da República n.º 124/2015, de 27 de outubro.
O artigo 3.º do mesmo Acordo refere que «[a] República Portuguesa assegurará as condições para o estabelecimento da Sede do Imamat Ismaili no seu território assim como para o exercício das suas funções». Já o artigo 16.º do citado Acordo prevê, expressamente, como compromisso do Imamat Ismaili, que este «[…] apoiará ativamente os esforços da República Portuguesa para melhorar a qualidade de vida de todos aqueles que vivem em Portugal, nomeadamente através do desenvolvimento em Portugal de projetos de investigação de nível mundial naquela área e, em termos mais gerais, em matérias de interesse comum da República Portuguesa e do Imamat Ismaili», providenciando este «[…] que as suas Instituições Dependentes de mais elevado nível criem as condições destinadas a atingir os objetivos definidos acima, em cooperação com os ministérios relevantes ou outras entidades do Governo Português».
Considerando que a Universidade Nova de Lisboa pretende alienar o Palácio Henrique de Mendonça/Casa Ventura Terra e que o Imamat Ismaili ali pretende instalar a Sede.
Considerando que, no âmbito da «Iniciativa Conhecimento para o Desenvolvimento», o Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior e o Imamat Ismaili se encontram a estabelecer os termos de referência para a celebração de um «Protocolo de Cooperação em Ciênciae Tecnologia».
Considerando, também, que a venda por ajuste direto do imóvel supra descrito ao Imamat Ismaili em Portugal reveste-se de excecional interesse público, que decorre da natureza e das finalidades da parte interessada na aquisição e dos compromissos bilaterais assumidos, podendo o respetivo procedimento de alienação ser autorizado por Resolução do Conselho de Ministros, como resulta da conjugação da alínea l) do n.º 2 e do n.º 3 do artigo 81.º do Decreto -Lei n.º 280/2007, de 7 de agosto.
Considerando, finalmente, que o imóvel se encontra classificado como de interesse público pelo Decreto n.º 28/82, de 26 de fevereiro, pelo que o Estado e o Município de Lisboa gozam do direito de preferência na sua alienação, nos termos do artigo 37.º da Lei n.º 107/2001, de 8 de setembro, e que o Município de Lisboa declarou que não o pretende exercer.
Nos termos da alínea l) do n.º 2 e do n.º 3 do artigo 81.º do Decreto-Lei n.º 280/2007, de 7 de agosto, e da alínea g) do artigo 199.º da Constituição, o Conselho de Ministros resolve:
1 — Reconhecer o excecional interesse público da venda, por ajuste direto, ao Imamat Ismaili em Portugal do imóvel denominado Palácio Henrique de Mendonça/Casa Ventura Terra, sito na Rua Marquês da Fronteira, n.ºs 18 a 28, em Lisboa, inscrito na matriz predial urbana sob o artigo 2415, da freguesia de Avenidas Novas (anterior artigo urbano 754 da extinta freguesia de São Sebastião da Pedreira), descrito na Conservatória do Registo Predial de Lisboa sob o n.º 1407 da freguesia de São Sebastião da Pedreira.
2 — Autorizar a venda, mediante ajuste direto, do imóvel identificado no número anterior ao Imamat Ismaili em Portugal, pelo preço de € 12 000 000,00, correspondente ao valor base homologado pela Direção-Geral do Tesouro e Finanças.
3 — Determinar que o produto da alienação reverte, na sua totalidade, para a Universidade Nova de Lisboa, nos termos do disposto no n.º 1 e na alínea a) do n.º 4 do artigo 13.º da Lei n.º 82 -B/2014, de 31 de dezembro, alterada pela Lei n.º 159-E/2015, de 30 de dezembro, e na alínea c) do n.º 9 do artigo 109.º da Lei n.º 62/2007, de 10 de setembro, o qual deve ser integralmente destinado a despesas de investimento no património próprio da Universidade, para reforço das instalações.
4 — Determinar que o Estado não exerce o direito de preferência previsto no artigo 37.º da Lei n.º 107/2001, de 8 de setembro.
Presidência do Conselho de Ministros, 17 de março de 2016. — Pelo Primeiro-Ministro, Maria Manuel de Lemos Leitão Marques, Ministra da Presidência e da Modernização Administrativa.
Date posted: May 12, 2016.
Last updated: May 14, 2016.
To view the original text of the resolution in the official Portuguese Gazette, please click https://dre.pt/application/file/74385362.
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
II. REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, RUI MACHETE
III. REMARKS BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF PORTUGAL, PEDRO PASSOS COELHO
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.
This post is also reproduced at http://www.simergphotos.com, Simerg’s photo blog.
Introduced by Abdulmalik Merchant
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. 
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.”
THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC
THE ISMAILI IMAMAT
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
THE SEAT OF THE ISMAILI IMAMAT IN PORTUGAL
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
For the Ismaili Imamat
His Highness Shah Karim al-Hussaini Prince Aga Khan, Forty-Ninth Hereditary Imam
Date posted: August 3, 2015.
Last updated: August 6, 2015 (Video link of the signing ceremony added, see below).
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
 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.
COMPILED BY SIMERG
Please click on photo for enlargement
In an unprecedented historical event, 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, came together at the historic Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on Wednesday June 3, 2015, to sign a landmark agreement to establish the Seat of the Imamat in Portugal. The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s).
The Agreement marks the first such accord in the Ismaili Imamat’s modern history. It will come into effect once it has been approved by Portugal’s Parliament and ratified by the President of the Portuguese Republic. Present at the signing ceremony was Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and other senior government officials.
Thanking the government for inviting the Ismaili Imamat to establish its permanent seat in Portugal, His Highness the Aga Khan (known to his 15 millions Ismaili followers as Mawlana Hazar Imam), 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.”
He expressed the hope that the agreement would be approved by the Portuguese Parliament through the democratic process, and that once it was ratified both the Imamat and Portugal could work together to achieve results that could not be achieved by working alone. His Highness also mentioned his community’s great respect and admiration for Portugal, a country where faith is integrated with civil society, a country where all people are happy, or at least the majority are happy, in a world where happiness is unusual.
The Institution of the Ismaili Imamat goes back 1400 years when, according to Shia Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Talib (a.s.) to be the first Imam, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Imam Ali and his daughter Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra (a.s).
The Ismailis are the only Shia Muslim community led by a living Imam who is vested with global religious authority and has the responsibility for the community’s spiritual and material well-being.
The succession of Imamat is by way of Nass [designation], it being the absolute prerogative of the current Imam to appoint his successor from amongst any of his male descendants whether they be sons or remoter issue.
The present 49th Imam, Prince Karim, succeeded to the throne of Imamat at the age of twenty on July 11, 1957 upon the demise of his late grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, who served the community for 72 years, beginning in 1885 when he was only seven years old.
The historical accord will result in intensified cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat in supporting research and the knowledge society and in improving the quality of life of Portugal’s inhabitants.
Responding to the historic signing, the Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said at Wednesday’s ceremony:
“The decisive step taken today will enable the deepening of cooperation, until today essential focused on the social area, with the Imamat Ismaili community beginning to support Portuguese institutions dedicated to excellent research on a wide variety of fields of knowledge.
“I am present here today due to it being a historic moment which brings a long and intense relation existing between Portugal and the Ismaili community to a new level, reflecting particularly the importance of the Ismaili community that resides in our country and Portuguese speaking African countries.”
The Prime Minister also pointed out Mawlana Hazar Imam’s role in “promoting a more tolerant world,” and also said that the choice of Portugal as the seat of the Ismaili Imamat was an acknowledgment of the Portuguese community’s ability to promote dialogue and tolerance between peoples, cultures and beliefs.
Date posted: Thursday, June 4, 2015.
The following English translation of selected parts of His Highness the Aga Khan’s speech on February 27, 2014 to the Canadian Parliament which were in French was obtained from the live translation that was provided during the broadcast.
HONOUR AND THE WORLDWIDE RECOGNITION OF IMAMAT
….Thank you again, Prime Minister, for your invitation. It is for me an unprecedented honour. It is a feeling, a profound feeling…because I have been told that this is the first time in 75 years that a spiritual leader has addressed the Senate and the House of Commons together as part of an official visit.
It is, therefore, with humility and awareness of eminent responsibility that I address to you today, elected representatives of the Federal Canadian Parliament and in the presence of other Senior Federal Officials.
I have the great privilege of representing the Ismaili Imamat — this institution which has stretched beyond borders for more than 1400 years and which defines itself and is recognised by an increasingly large number of states, as the succession of Shia Imami Ismaili Imams.
As the 49th Imam, I have for the past 50 years, looked after two inseparable responsibilities: overseeing the spiritual wellbeing of Ismailis, as well, at the same time, as focusing on improving their quality of life and that of the people with whom they live.
Even if there was a time when Ismaili Imams were also Caliphs — in other words, Head of States, for example in Egypt during Fatimid times — my duties today are apolitical. All Ismailis are first and foremost citizens of their countries of birth or adoption. The reach of the Ismaili Imamat is, however, much larger than it was at that time since it is active today in many regions of the world. It is from this perspective that I will share with you some thoughts with you that I feel are worthy of your presence here today.
OPPOSING FORCES BUT HARMONY IS POSSIBLE
THROUGH A CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS
Allow me at this point to address you again in French. I have just spoken about the incomprehension that exists between industrialised world and Muslim world and about how opposing forces have undermined relations with the great traditions of Islam. Yet, our hearts, our minds, and for many, our faith, tell us that harmony is possible. In fact, recent developments are an indication of this.
I would like to say how important constitutional development is in correcting the inability of several existing constitutions to match the evolution of societies, especially when these societies are evolving. This is a fundamental issue that, given my responsibilities, I cannot ignore. You maybe surprised to learn that 37 countries throughout the world have adopted a new constitution over the past 10 years, and 12 are at an advanced phase of modernising their own constitutions. That is a total of 49 countries. In other words, this movement involves a quarter of the UN member states. Out of that 49, 25 percent have a Muslim majority. This shows that there is now no turning back from the demand by civil societies for new constitutional structures.
I would like to take a moment now to speak to a specific political difficulty that involves the Muslim world. Religious parties, by their very structure, are based on the principle of inseparability between religion and daily life. The consequence of this is that when it comes time to negotiate constitutional terms with those who want separation between state and religion, a consensus of overarching legislation becomes very difficult to reach.
THE EXAMPLE OF TUNISIA: A GREAT STEP FORWARD
However, there is one country that has shown us now that this is possible, and that is the Tunisian Republic.
Now is not the time or the place to go into details on its new Constitution, however, allow me to point out that this is the outcome of a responsible pluralist debate, and that it appears to contain the necessary rules to ensure mutual respect between the various parts of civil society. This is reflected in, among other things, a use of notion of coalition, whether that be at an electoral level or government level. This is a great step forward for the kind of pluralism that Canada and the Ismaili Imamat have been hoping for.
Allow me also to make note of a hopeful outcome of these developments. That is that the forum for debate and conflict within any pluralist society no longer has to be the street or square, but that it can be the constitutional court of a state’s law.
THE PORTUGUESE CONNECTION AND THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY
Besides the genius of Tunisian constitutionalists, the preparatory work of this involved consultations on comparative Constitutional Law. And I would like to acknowledge in particular the role that the Portuguese legal experts have played, citizens of the country that I greatly admire and that, like Canada, has developed a civilisation of mutual respect between communities and openness to religions. I am referring here to the law regulating the relations between the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat since 2010. I am very pleased to add, before this very honourable audience, that this law was unanimously passed and it recognises the nature of the Ismaili Imamat as being a supranational entity.
In conclusion, on the Tunisian constitution, Mr Francois Hollande, the President of the French Republic, said in Tunis that “what makes your revolution unique and even your constitution, is the role of civil society.”
Date posted: Sunday March 1, 2014
Please also see: 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