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Aga Khan to visit Bangladesh 2008-05-14

Wednesday, 2008, May 14
Hazar Imam visits Bangladesh for Golden Jubilee   2008-05-14
Srabanti Majumder

Leader of the Aga Khan Community in the world, Prince Karim Aga Khan is expected to arrive in Bangladesh on 19 May on a 3-day visit. Bangladesh will accord VVIP [Highest Official Status] to him during his visit. A gazette notification was already issued in Dhaka on May 12 in this regard.

Karim al-Hussayni, Aga Khan IV KBE, CC, GCC, born in December 13, 1936 is the current [49th] Im?m of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He has been in this position, and held the title of Aga Khan, since July 11, 1957. The Ismailis are ethnically and culturally diverse and reside in over 35 countries around the world. A modern Muslim leader, the Aga Khan is responsible for the interpretation of the faith for his followers and as part of the office of the Imamate, he endeavors to improve the quality of their lives and of the communities in which they live. In the Shia tradition of Islam, it is the mandate of the Imam of the time to safeguard the individual's right to personal intellectual search and to give practical expression to the ethical vision of society that the Islamic message inspires.

The Aga Khan is referred to by members of his community as Mawlana Hazar Imam. He traces his lineage to the Prophet Muhammad through Muhammad's daughter Fatima and her husband `Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shi`a Imam. Since his ascension to the Imamat, the Aga Khan has witnessed complex political and economic changes which have affected his followers, including independence of African countries from colonial rule, expulsion of Asians from Uganda, the independence of Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan from the former Soviet Union, and the continuing turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan

The Aga Khan has been particularly interested in the elimination of global poverty; the advancement of the status of women; the promotion of Islamic culture, art, and architecture; and furthering pluralistic values in society. He is the founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the largest private development networks in the world, which works towards social, economic, and cultural development in Asia and Africa.

The Aga Khan is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network [AKDN], one of the largest private development networks in the world. Its partners include numerous governments and several international organizations. AKDN agencies operate in social and economic development as well as in the field of culture, with special focus on countries of the Third World.

The network includes the Aga Khan University [AKU], the University of Central Asia [UCA], the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development [AKFED], the Aga Khan Trust for Culture [AKTC], the Aga Khan Foundation [AKF], the Aga Khan Health Services [AKHS], the Aga Khan Education Services [AKES], the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services [AKPBS], the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance [AKAM], and more. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture [AKAA] is the largest architectural award in the world.

In addition, Focus Humanitarian Assistance [FOCUS], an affiliate of the AKDN, is responsible for emergency response in the face of disaster. Recent examples include the massive earthquake in Pakistan [AKDN earthquake response] and the South Asian Tsunami.

He is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which he founded in 1977.

Significant recent or current projects led by the Aga Khan include the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Canada, the Global Centre for Pluralism [GCP] in Ottawa, Canada, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, the Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Egypt, and a network of full IB residential schools known as the Aga Khan Academies [AKA]. In 2002, Aga Khan pledged $75 million for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The pledge was the largest by any single donor and more than many countries.

The Aga Khan has been recognized by several national and international organizations for his service to humanity.

In an audience with Queen Elizabeth II on July 26, 1957, Her Majesty addressed the Aga Khan as Your Highness in recognition of the Aga Khan's royal status. On August 12, 1957, the Sultan of Zanzibar invested the title of Brilliant Star of Zanzibar. During his visit to Iran for ten days, the Shah of Iran awarded him the title of His Royal Highness on October 24, 1959. He visited Goa for the first time, where the Portuguese government conferred the title of Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry on October 27, 1960. The President of Ivory Coast decorated the Aga Khan with the title of Grand Cross of the National Order on August 4, 1965. On his way to Europe, the Aga Khan alighted at Ugadaught, the capital of Upper Volta in West Africa, when the President awarded him title of National Order on August 5, 1965. He arrived in Tananarive, the capital of Malagasy, where the President awarded him the title of Grand Cross of the National Order of Malagache Republic on November 15, 1966. The President of Comore Island, Sayed Muhammad Shaikh awarded the Aga Khan the title of Grand Cross of the Green Crescent on November 20, 1966. It was his first visit to Pakistan with his wife when the President of Pakistan granted the title of Nishan-e-Imtiaz on January 15, 1970. The Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti had personally received the Aga Khan on December 8, 1977 at the Palazzo Chigi, and awarded Italy's highest national award, namely Order of the Knight of the Grand Cross in recognition of his role in the development of Sardinia's economy. The Aga Khan was also honoured the title of Gran Croce Della Republica Italiana by the government of Italy in 1978. His Majesty King Hasan II of Morocco conferred the grand cordon of Ouissam al-Arch, the highest Moroccon honour upon the Aga Khan on November 26, 1986 at Rabat at a dinner hosted to him at the royal palace. Dignitaries like His Royal Highness Prince Bender bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister of Morocco, Azeddina Laraki etc. were also present in the ceremony. On October 26, 1988, Italy's President Francesco Cossiga invested the Imam the title of The Order of the Cavaliere del Lavoro at Rome, and he was the first Muslim to be so honoured in Italy. On November 7, 1990, the French President Francois Mitterand, awarded the Aga Khan at Paris, the highest national honour of Commander of the Legion d'Honneur, established by Nepoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

The World Monuments Fund recently honoured the Aga Khan IV with its prestigious Hadrian Award for his vigorous and fruitful efforts to preserve and revitalise historic cities in Islamic world on October 28, 1996 at New York.

In the 2003 New Year Honours list he was named Knight Commander in the Order of the British Empire [KBE] "for services to international development, especially in Asia and Africa, and to UK-French relations."

Other examples of note include the 2005 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, the 2005 Die Quadriga and the 2005 Vincent Scully Prize. He was also named Honorary Companion of the Order of Canada, one of only five non-Canadians ever to receive this honour.

On August 13, 2007, the Aga Khan became a Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya.

On April 23, 2008, His Highness the Aga Khan was awarded the Grand Cross of the National Order of Mali by President Amadou Toumani Touré during a state banquet at the President’s Palace at Koulouba.

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