Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, KBE, CC is the 49th and current Imam of Nizari Ismailism, a denomination of Isma’ilism within Shia Islam with an estimated 10–15 million adherents (10–12% of the world’s Shia Muslim population).The Aga Khan is a business magnate with British and Portuguese citizenship, as well as a racehorse owner and breeder. He has held this position of Imam, under the title of Aga Khan IV, since 11 July 1957, when, at the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III. It is believed that the Aga Khan is a direct lineal descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, considered the first Imam in Shia Islam, and Ali’s wife Fatima az-Zahra, Muhammad’s daughter from his first marriage.
On October 4th, 2018, Karen Armstrong, writer and religious historian, delivered the sixth Annual Pluralism Lecture titled “Compassion or Toleration? Two Approaches to Pluralism”.
Each person invited to give the Annual Pluralism Lecture is asked to reflect on how to build and strengthen pluralist societies. The Lecture is hosted by the Global Centre for Pluralism, an independent, charitable organization founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. It is based in Ottawa, Canada.
In her lecture, Ms. Armstrong spoke about the value of religion during what could be the “last gasp” of nationalism: “What the religions all tell us… [is] that enlightenment insists on overcoming the ego, letting the ego go. Nationalism is about ego, it’s about swelling the ego, and often that means excluding the other, as Lord Acton pointed out.”
Citing her current work on the scriptures of three of the world’s great religions, she went on to say that “the scriptures — all, in every tradition — say you have to work for the good of others, all others, not just those in your own camp, practically and creatively. That is the route to enlightenment.”
During his introduction, His Highness the Aga Khan remarked that “I think that one of the greatest challenges for the entire world will be finding ways in which we can all achieve a deeper understanding of the other, and what makes each of us distinct, as human beings and as communities. To achieve this vital goal, reflective, creative and empathetic thinkers and writers will be critically important.”
Over the last 20 years, Karen Armstrong has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions, including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. She is the author of Islam: A Short History, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. She is also the author of two memoirs, Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into 45 languages. She is also a former Trustee of the British Museum and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Literature. Ms. Armstrong was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015.
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an independent, not-for-profit international research and education centre located in Ottawa, Canada. Inspired by the example of Canada’s inclusive approach to citizenship, the Centre works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, believing that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world.
The Ismaili Constitution gives a unifying structure of governance to all Nizaris and their religiously-based institutions, who are established in more than 25 countries and territories around the globe. Due to the differing social, economic, and political realities faced by the Nizari diaspora, the constitution has built-in flexibility, allowing various communities the ability to propose rules and regulations unique to individual communities, while retaining the overall unity of framework with all other communities, through detailed provisions within the constitution.
The First Aga Khan: Memoirs of the 46th Ismaili Imam, by Daniel Beben
This book offers a new Persian edition and the first English translation of the Ibrat-afza, the memoirs of Hasan Ali Shah, the 46th Imam of the Nizari Ismailis and the first Ismaili Imam to bear the title of Aga Khan. The Ibrat-afza was composed in the year 1851, following the Imam’s departure from Persia and his permanent settlement in India.
The text recounts the Aga Khan’s early life and political career as the governor of the province of Kirman in Iran, and narrates the dramatic events of his conflict with the Qajar establishment in Iran and his subsequent travels and exploits in Afghanistan and British India. The Ibrat-afza provides a rare example of an autobiographical account from an Ismaili Imam and a first-hand account giving a window into the history of the Ismailis of Iran, India and Central Asia at the dawn of the modern era of their history. Consequently, the book will be of great interest to both researchers and general readers interested in Ismaili history and in the history of the Islamic world in the nineteenth century.
You can view an introduction and table of content of the book at this link to a PDF file.
An article we encourage you to read has a daunting name and a daunting description, but it is actually very interesting information.
Titled FROM THE QUMRAN MIQDAŠ ‘ADAM TO THE ISMAILI TEMPLE OF LIGHT (HAYKAL NURANI), its author, Laura Navajas Espinal, writes:
The purpose of this paper is to present the Qumran conception of temple (eschatological temple and miqdaš ’adam) as an intermediate stage between the understanding of temple in Jewish eschatology and the Ismaili innerness of the “temple of light.” All of it in the frame of the conception of temple as Garden of Eden based in the “alternative memory” yielded by parabiblical priestly traditions.
Qumran; Ismailism; Judaism; Temple; Mysticism; Gnosi
We have assembled a collection of various trailers to the documentary film AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE: the Aga Khan and the Ismailis. We hope you enjoy watching them. We will be announcing full screenings of the film as we learn of them.
There is much debate about what spurs political violence. The explanations are multi-fold. There is one aspect that I’d like to discuss tonight as it relates to Africa and that is the role of Saudi Arabia. Let me be clear: With the exception of a handful of countries, none of which are in Africa, Saudi Arabia, that is to say the government, the religious establishment and members of the ruling family and business community, does not fund violence. It has however over the last half century launched the single largest public diplomacy campaign in history, pumping up to $100 billion dollars…
Creating Frankenstein: Saudi Arabia’s Ultra-conservative Footprint in Africa by author James M. Dorsey, faculty member at Nanyang Technological University, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
The IADC Inc staff often encounter interesting articles that we would like to recommend to all of our readers.
Today’s Staff Recommends is an article uploaded to academia.edu titled Jamatkhanas: Spaces of Community, Places of Belonging by author Rizwan Mawani.
“This short article looks at the Ismaili jamatkhana’s role in creating and building community in the contemporary era. It explores the space’s first appearance asking questions of its history and pre-history in South Asia as well as in other”