If the Pope invited the prime minister's family to visit for the holidays, and sent a private jet to pick them up, would the Opposition be hinting at a breach of ethics? What if the invitation came from the Dali Lama?
It was announced this week, in a letter sent by Conservative MP Peter Kent, that the Conservatives will seek a criminal investigation into Justin Trudeau's December 2017 trip to the Aga Khan's private Caribbean island. This followed a Federal Court ruling ordering the lobbying commissioner to re-examine whether the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims violated the code for lobbyists when he extended the invitation to the Trudeau family. The case was brought before the Federal Court by Democracy Watch.
The way Peter Kent, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, and Democracy Watch keep pursuing Justin Trudeau about his family's visit with the Aga Khan is enough to make a person wonder a) if they don't understand that the current Aga Khan IV is globally revered by people of all faiths, or b) if they are so eager to score a few political points that they are willing to risk being perceived as Islamophobic.
Mind you, for people of a certain age, the name "Aga Khan" is associated with the Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan, known as Aly Khan, a son of Sultan Mahommed Shah. Mid-century, he was famous for loving fast horses and fast cars. He also had a reputation for seducing married women, one of whom was movie star Rita Hayworth, then also being courted by the Shah of Iran and Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis. For mid-century memories, "Aga Khan" may be a name from the tabloids.
However, Ali Khan's father, Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III, (1877-1957) was a distinguished religious leader of the world's 10 to 15 million Ismaili Muslims, the liberal Islamic denomination whose members are usually in professions, commerce or business, to which Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi belongs. As with Christian groups like Quakers and Mennonites, world service is part of the Ismaili religion.
"The Ismaili Muslims are a global, multi-ethnic community whose members, comprising a wide diversity of cultures, languages and nationalities, live in Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and North America," explains the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) website.
Sir Sultan (the Aga Khans hold British citizenship) led his people in building strong communities wherever the South Asian diaspora scattered them. When he died in 1957, his will skipped over his wild son, Aly Khan, and unexpectedly named as his heir, his grandson, Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini, then only 20 years old. Since then, Prince Karim seems to have made every effort to live up to his destiny. Although he's been divorced three times, he's met each wife respectably.
To his followers, Prince Karim is a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammed, and holds the 49th Imamat, the top Ismaili religious post. When he was named to the Imamat, the Prince announced solemnly, "My religious responsibilities begin as of today."
But there's a wrinkle: "In Islam's ethical tradition, religious leaders not only interpret the faith but also have a responsibility to help improve the quality of life in their community and in the societies amongst which they live," explains the AKDN website.
Members of the Ismaili faith usually tithe, donating 10 percent or more of their income to the Imamat, funds intended to improve life in the poorest parts of the world, and to bring Ismailis out of dangerous regions, such as Tajikistan and Sudan. The Prince founded the AKDN in the 1980s to distribute those funds, by unifying an existing network. For 40 years, he has constantly directed and contributed its growth to what is now a $925 million a year humanitarian outreach program to the poorest parts of Africa and Asia.
These days, the AKDN employs 80,000 people working in 30 countries mainly in Africa and Asia, focussing on education and healthcare, among 10 departments that include culture and microfinance. Although projects tend to take place in mainly Muslim areas, that's not a requirement.
The AKDN often works in collaboration with other aid agencies whose values are in alignment, especially Canadian agencies. Indeed, the AKDN has worked so often with Canadian aid agencies that in 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made Prince Karim an honorary Canadian citizen, one of only five ever appointed. The Prince's voluminous list of other honours and awards includes 24 honorary doctorates from universities around the world, including Harvard, McGill, U of Toronto, and seven other Canadian universities.
In 2014, Harper invited Prince Karim to make a rare outsider's address to Parliament. The two then signed a Protocol of Understanding, spelling out a $100 million joint investment initiative called "The Partnership for Advancing Human Development in Africa and Asia," to improve the quality of life for more than a million people living in Asia and Africa.
Up until Andrew Scheer's complaint to the lobbying commissioner, then, Canada and the Aga Khan have been on very good terms. So the tone of Scheer's complaint was shocking to many. As Andrew Cohen noted in 2017, some comments in the House make the Aga Khan sound like "just another sly, low 'lobbyist,' a dime-store remittance man seeking 'privileged access' to a naif with the offer of a free holiday. It’s absurd!" he concluded.
Prince Karim is fabulously wealthy himself, of course, with a net worth estimated at between $800 million and $3 billion. He also inherited his grandfather's race horse stables, and has become a renowned race horse breeder. Rather than seeking more wealth or influence, he is known as a philanthropist, paying AKDN's expenses, for example, so that denomination members' donations can go entirely to benefit others.
The issue, the Court said, is that the Aga Khan Foundation employs a registered lobbyist, and the Aga Khan is listed as a foundation board member. The judge emphasized this is a theoretical point, not a suggestion that Justin Trudeau might influence the foundation to add the Aga Khan to its board -- which was wise, because the idea anybody could influence what role the Prince plays on the AKDN Board is ridiculous, risible and could be perceived as offensive.
One Calgary member of an Ismaili congregation scorned the idea that the PM had any influence over Prince Karim's position on the AK Foundation. "The AgaKhan Development Network belongs to His Highness The AgaKhan and His entire Family" she wrote in a message. "He is the Founding Chair and has been for 40 years since He established it. He has given so much to the Global development including Canada, that it is a shame politicians only see what is in front of their noses and nothing beyond."
Canada has more than 100,000 vocal, articulate, politically active Ismaili Muslims -- many of whom view the Aga Khan as He with a capital H -- and more than a million Muslims altogether. Thousands more immigrants are grateful to the AKDN for help received at home or on the journey.
Andrew Scheer and Peter Kent don't seem to understand or care that the way they has been carelessly denigrating the Aga Khan is liable to alienate a sizeable constituency of voters. Mind you, a person doesn't have to be Muslim to be offended by gratuitous slurs against one of the world's greatest living humanitarians -- just someone who cares about integrity.
Award-winning author and journalist Penney Kome has published six non-fiction books and hundreds of periodical articles, as well as writing a national column for 12 years and a local (Calgary) column for four years. She was editor of Straightgoods.com from 2004–2013.
I write this letter from my hotel room in Hyderabad with very deep love in my heart and hope in my soul that, one day, I may have the honour and privilege of standing in your holy presence. This letter is an expression of my gratitude to you for what you and your institutions have done for India and I wish to share this gratitude with my fellow citizens.
Born in 1987, I was raised in a Punjabi Hindu household and in a social circle where the general opinion of Muslims was not flattering. My understanding of Muslims was poor and I had never even heard of the Ismailis until a few years ago. All throughout my childhood, I did not know that the owner of the very store where my family purchased its groceries was an Ismaili Muslim, Tejani Uncle. Sadly, he passed away last year but I remember him fondly as a gentle soul, one who was no doubt inspired by your teachings and example. I have grown up listening to the Bollywood music of Salim and Sulaiman, but only recently learned that they are your followers and have produced music to honour your Jubilees and to display their love and affection for you. Like these two artists, Ismailis are strong contributors to Indian society, yet so few know about the Ismaili faith as a shining example of Islam. Like so many, I have grown up in complete ignorance about your good office, the Ismaili Imamat, and the work of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), despite your impactful activities in so many sectors across India: from operating schools and hospitals, to providing irrigation and other support to countless farmers, to building parks, protecting our national treasures and restoring historic monuments. You have been extremely generous with your resources and our entire country owes you a debt of gratitude.
Although cultural and religious diversity has been an irreversible historical reality of Indian civilization, I can say confidently that very few Indians actually know or understand what pluralism means and how important it is. Yet it was on Indian soil, back in April 2003, when you told us that: “Tolerance, openness and understanding towards other peoples' cultures, social structures, values and faiths are now essential to the very survival of an interdependent world… Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development, it is vital to our existence.” In a world where the image of Muslims is being tarnished by extremists, you and your work and your enlightened guidance to humanity in the form of your speeches and publications serve as beacons of light and hope that Muslims and non-Muslims can live in peace, harmony and mutual respect. Although I grew up in Mumbai, I had never heard of the Prince Aly Khan Hospital, named after your late father. And I had no idea that your hospitals and clinics, under the umbrella of Aga Khan Health Services, have been providing affordable and, in many cases, subsidized health care to thousands of Indians for decades. And although my childhood home was a mere 15 minutes from the Yuwan Housing Society in Bandra, I had no idea that you and your late grandfather have been actively building and supporting housing societies in India for nearly a century. Today, affordable housing is a huge problem in Mumbai, as in other parts of India. This was perhaps something that you foresaw. Only now, with three decades of hindsight, can we see the astonishing wisdom behind your decision to seed-fund the plethora of Ismaili housing societies across Mumbai and other parts of India, some of which have appreciated in value more than 100-fold since inception. Many of these were spawned with proceeds from your Silver Jubilee and today they are more precious than diamonds in the era of your Diamond Jubilee. City dwellers in India, including myself, often forget that the overwhelming majority of Indians live in the rural areas. And us city dwellers take our fruits and vegetables for granted, usually never knowing where the produce comes from. Yet the plethora of suicides by farmers is a high profile issue today and a concern to many Indians. Fortunately, many farmers in India have been spared an undignified life due to your foresight and the work of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP). The beneficiary profile and impact of the AKRSP in India is truly astonishing. Active in more than 2200 villages across three states, your work has benefited over 250,000 families and 11,200 village organizations. Transcending the bounds of a patriarchal society, the AKRSP has mobilized more women than men
Today, I live in Pune. It is a city where you and your family have deep historical ties. And though I have been visiting Pune several times a year since my early childhood, only last year did I visit the Aga Khan Palace. Previously, I had no idea that Gandhi’s beloved wife, Kasturba, was buried there. And I had no idea that it was your late grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahamed Shah, who impressed upon the British to allow Gandhi-ji to reside there when he was placed under house arrest. Today, the Aga Khan Palace is a tourist attraction but sadly its role in Indian history is little known. In this short letter, it would not be possible to cover all that you have done for India but there is one story that I found particularly heartwarming. When Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) was undergoing a political crisis and the lives of thousands of Indians living in that country was at stake, I understand that you walked into the Air India head office in Nairobi and chartered planes to evacuate all Indians from Zaire and give them safe passage to Mumbai – and all of this at your personal expense! In a world where politicians shout their achievements and deeds from rooftops, your example of quiet diplomacy and extending a helping hand to the marginalized and unsafe is truly remarkable, indeed awe inspiring
In closing, I wish to personally thank you, in however small measure, for all that you have done for mother India and her people. I understand that you love biryani and samosas, and perhaps one day you will permit me the honour of meeting you and cooking for you. In the meantime, however, I will send nandi (food offering) to your Jamatkhana in Pune, as I have done in the past when I lived in Bangalore.
The rise of Islamophobia and the increase in hate crimes targeted at Muslims point to the lasting effect of Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis. Twenty-three years after the publication of his book, the image of a “violent and irrational” Muslim continues to plague current policies and society at large.
Canada prides itself as being a multicultural nation that embraces diversity, yet anti-Muslim sentiments still remain a growing concern. Muslim Canadians continue to be the target of right-wing political ideas that ignite anxieties around Muslim expressions of identity. An Ipsos poll published in May suggests that discrimination against Muslims has become more acceptable in Canada.
The media’s superficial portrayal of Islam perpetuates a dreary picture of Muslims. Events such as the Quebec City Mosque shooting in 2017 that claimed the lives of six Muslims and the passing of Quebec’s Bill 21 in June 2019, which bans the wearing of religious symbols, have contributed to the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric across Canada. In all these acts, there is a common threat: a rejection of difference propelled by fear, founded in misconceptions and misinformation.
In the face of rising sociopolitical polarizations and inequity among minority races and classes, conversations surrounding diversity, inclusion and equity have become more pertinent than ever. There is a necessity for politicians, policymakers, community leaders (secular and religious) and citizens to conscientiously reflect and come together. Finding more sustainable and equitable strategies to combat dichotomies that divide and disenfranchise must become a priority in the current climate.
Aga Khan IV
One person who has committed his life’s work to cultural engagement and dispelling stereotypes about Muslims is His Highness Aga Khan IV, the 49th hereditary spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. Inspired by Islam, Aga Khan IV is a world leader who addresses a myriad of contemporary issues facing humanity while championing the cause of pluralism. Through his efforts, Aga Khan IV offers a powerful antidote to the perpetuating orientalist perceptions that reduce Islam to intolerance and violence.
Many in the developing world are familiar with him through his development initiatives and services offered through the Aga Khan Development Network. As the founder of this network and as a Muslim religious leader, Aga Khan IV puts faith into action through a commitment to engagement and service to humankind.
In fact, Aga Khan IV’s engagement with human development and socioeconomic uplift supersedes any political affiliation. So much so that Andrew Scheer, the current leader of the Canadian Conservative Party, described Aga Khan IV as “a clear beacon and an example to follow … changing the world and making it a better place for those who are most in need of our assistance” during an address to the joint houses of Parliament in 2014. An interesting characterization by the Conservative leader who, along with his party members, have engaged in tarnishing Aga Khan IV’s stellar reputation for political gain.
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Aga Khan IV has spoken widely about the value of embracing a cosmopolitan ethic — an orientation of sorts that enables dialogue and partnerships among different peoples in order to advance the quality of life of every person. This outlook has been passed down from the Greeks to Muslims and, more recently, appropriated by leaders and academics.
According to Aga Khan IV, such a worldview rests on a deep spiritual foundation. Faith and the world are intricately linked, allowing for an approach that integrates religio-cultural values with socioeconomic commitments. This formulation also facilitates the engagement of the Ismaili Muslim community in the contemporary world. This cosmopolitan ethic envisions a type of human connectedness that aims to weave together the universal and the particular, as well as the spiritual and the material. Aga Khan IV has previously explained: “A cosmopolitan ethic accepts our ultimate moral responsibility to the whole of humanity, rather than absolutizing a presumably exceptional part … [it] will honor both our common humanity and our distinctive identities — each reinforcing the other as part of the same high moral calling.”
For Aga Khan IV, this cosmopolitan ethic is rooted in the rich ethico-religious tradition of Islam inspired by the Quran, which encourages the believer to embrace a common origin of humanity while acknowledging and respecting its diversity — a gift of the divine. The Quran says, “We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another” (49:13). In other words, knowing the other is a fulfillment of the divine will, of being Muslim and, indeed, of being human.
Aga Khan IV has chosen the medium of architecture to express the cosmopolitan spirit and brings different perspectives into dialogue. Speaking on September 13 at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture ceremony in Kazan, Russia, he once again emphasized the effective role architecture can have in paving this effort. He noted, “I believe deeply in the potential of the architectural world to help inspire and enrich a creative dialogue in all four of the areas I have mentioned: a dialogue between creative architectural partners, a dialogue between past and future, a dialogue between natural reality and human creativity, and a dialogue among diverse cultures.”
The layers of engagement and interchange of diverse commitments embedded in these areas of dialogue reflect those values sacred to a cosmopolitan ethic. There are two remarkable buildings in Canada commissioned by Aga Khan IV that play an important role in demystifying the faith of Islam and changing perceptions about Muslims: the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre Toronto. These institutional landmarks that sit on a 6.8-hectare site along the arterial Don Valley express Aga Khan IV’s commitment to a cosmopolitan ethic.
Although the Aga Khan Museum is a public institution accomplishing this task through its educational and cultural mission, I want to highlight the equally impressive Ismaili Centre that has added stimulating avenues toward shaping this cosmopolitan outlook.
Cosmopolitan Ethics and the Built Environment
The Ismaili Centre Toronto is the second ambassadorial building of its kind in Canada and the sixth among a family of Ismaili centers across the globe. These buildings have become a symbol of the Ismaili community’s approach to the Muslim faith and modern life on the world stage. The building’s facade is very much in keeping with the cosmopolitan ethic of expressing a long tradition of Islamic values while reflecting the fabric of the community in which it resides.
Serving as a site of congregation for the community, the Ismaili Centre also fulfills a more ambitious role of advancing opportunities for dialogue and engagement with the broader community. Over the past five years, it has played host to a number of workshops, seminars, round-table dialogues, Nawruz celebrations and the inaugural iftar dinner during Ramadan. In addition, it partakes in the annual “Doors Open Toronto,” welcoming Torontonians and offering an insider’s perspective on Muslim representation — helping to change the narrative, one human at a time.
The center’s impressive social hall is no stranger to entertaining sounds and enriching dialogue. It provides a safe venue for raising complex questions and encouraging mutual exchange and understanding. Collaboration is a key ingredient to the success of the Ismaili Centre’s programming.
In May, for example, the Women’s Portfolio for the Ismaili Council of Ontario, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (Toronto chapter), and the Muslim Awards for Excellence came together to host a panel discussion. Four remarkable women, including MP Iqra Khalid, spoke about the valuable contribution of women to Canadian society.
This is just one of the many thoughtful and engaging activities that take place within the center. Another intellectually-engaging series taking place at the Ismaili Centre Toronto is a Conversation Series that broaches a number of curated topics, ranging from bioethics to art. In this way, the Ismaili Centre and its initiatives live up to the ambitious role of representing the values of a Muslim community, productively engaging with civic life and building bridges between diverse communities. This is indeed a testament to Aga Khan IV’s cosmopolitan ethos.
The Ismaili Centre, situated in the vibrant and diverse city of Toronto, sends a bold message to Canada and the world at a time of heightened Islamophobia.
JollyGul.com: 63 Years of Principles In Action #ImamatDay2020
BY ISMAILIMAIL POSTED ON JULY 12, 2020
Something happened on July 11, 1957 that changed the life of a 20 year-old student at Harvard University.
Our 48th Imam Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III passed the responsibilities of the Ismaili Imamat to Prince Karim our present Imam who was still a student at Harvard University.
That day, everything changed for our Imam-e-Zaman. Personal ambition and interests got replaced in an instant with a life of service – the Jamat would take center place in his life henceforth.
Over the next decades, millions of lives would be touched by the work of Mawlana Hazar Imam. People would pass through our schools, universities and hospitals, many would get touched by the rural support programs, primary health care outreach, emergency relief efforts, scholarships, museum and historical sites, architecture and garden projects, economic initiatives in areas where the private sector would dare not venture – but the Imamat would, to pave the path for others.
One life touched at a time, millions of beneficiaries over the decades. Life paths changed for the better.
So what are we celebrating on July 11th 2020? As Ismailis, of course, we are expressing our deep gratitude and appreciation for 63 years of guidance, love, leadership and service by our beloved Hazar Imam. And we are re-affirming our absolute and complete spiritual allegiance to our Imam-e-Zaman in accordance with our faith.
But we are not stopping there. We are also celebrating the millions of lives that have been touched and made better over the decades by the vastly expanded scope of activities by our “ambitious 49th Imam”.
In the picture taken at Harvard in 1958, Hazar Imam is reading a letter and looks happy. You can also detect a smile. But close your eyes for a minute, and just imagine the weight of responsibilities on our Imam at that time.
Now fast forward to 2020 and look at our community today. Geographically dispersed but united, aware of its history of 1,400 years but always forward looking. Tolerant and embracing diversity but always taking a firm stand on right versus wrong. Balancing worldly pursuits with spiritual awareness and social conscience. Economically successful but believing that wealth creation only makes sense if it improves the lives of all.
All this flows from the ethics of our faith. But there are two things that Mawlana Hazar Imam has always done. First, he has constantly reminded us of these principles. And secondly, he has led us by example and demonstrated to us in so many different ways on how to make these principles actionable in our daily lives.
Leadership matters. We have seen countries around the world, rich and poor, with beautifully written constitutions and founding documents get into a state of total dysfunction not because they do not have these principles written somewhere, but because people have conveniently forgotten about them and leaders are looking for short-term “wins” and being opportunistic.
Looking back the last 63 years, we see in Mawlana Hazar Imam a steadfast vision, a deep concern always for the Jamat and societies in which they live, a rigorous work ethic and a unique ability to translate these principles into real life vibrant institutions, projects and programs for the benefit of millions of people.
El Aga Khan, el confidente de Don Juan Carlos
Se conocen desde pequeños, cuando compartían pupitre en el internado de Suiza. Ayudó a su hija Cristina en Ginebra y quizá ahora a él
Doña Sofía y Don Juan Carlos charlan animadamente con su amigo el Aga Khan/Foto: SERGIO PEREZ/REUTERS
El miércoles, cuando solo se hablaba de República Dominicana, puse sobre la mesa el nombre del Aga Khan, un hombre que llama Juanito, al Rey Emérito, que siempre está para lo bueno y para lo necesario, y que cuenta con el mérito de la discreción. El problema de los comunicados que dejan abiertos interrogantes importantes como el lugar donde el Rey Juan Carlos fijará su residencia en el extranjero, si es una medida temporal o hasta el fin de sus días y con quién o cómo se le dará cobijo, dan pie a que esas preguntas que quedan en el aire se traten de despejar.
Haciendo repaso a la historia de la familia real, hay un personaje discreto, que siempre está cuando se le necesita y que tiene más de lo que una mente humana pudiera imaginar, un hombre que llama al rey Juan Carlos, «Juanito» porque compartieron pupitre en el internado suizo al que no hay que premiar ni con marquesados, ni con medallas porque las tiene todas inherentes a su figura y, por si necesitase algo terrenal, la Reina Isabel le concedió, hace sesenta años, la distinción de Su Alteza. El rey de más de veinte millones de Ismaelitas es como Dios en la tierra por ser descendiente directo del profeta Mahoma. Hasta decir su nombre impone: el Aga Khan. En pleno confinamiento, Pedro Campos, me dijo que su casa de Sanxenxo tenía las puertas abiertas para Don Juan Carlos, también la familia Fanjul y la República Dominicana cuentan con mucho atractivo y Don Juan Carlos tiene las dependencias de sus mansiones a su disposición para cuando desee. De hecho, el Rey Emérito no es un personaje desconocido en esos lugares, pero estamos enmedio de una pandemia mundial, Don Juan Carlos tiene 82 años y se va de España, a petición propia, a raíz de las contundentes medidas que el Rey Felipe VI ha tomado y la reacción del pueblo soberano para que aclare su situación financiera.
Cobijo en el castillo
Y ahí entraría una vez más el Aga Khan que cobijó en su castillo de Chantilly el incipiente amor que se gestaba en Francia entre la infanta Elena y Jaime de Marichalar. También alojó en sus cuadras a los caballos de la primogénita de Don Juan Carlos cuando en España se declaró un brote de peste equina. En esos establos cría sus cotizados puras sangre, como Shelgar el caballo de carreras más caro del mundo que fue secuestrado y nunca apareció. El Aga Khan se negó a pagar rescate por él. Doña Sofía también ha conocido y apreciado las posesiones del Aga Khan y cuando la infanta Cristina comenzó a estar cuestionada, sin estridencias y con discreción, como hace un amigo del que te puedes fiar, el rey de los ismaelitas le ofreció una fuente de ingresos y una cobertura en Ginebra.
Un hombre que se convirtió en Su Alteza el Aga Khan IV muy joven por deseo de su abuelo, ademas su padre, el «play boy», Aly Khan, murió estrellado contra un árbol del Bois de Bologne en Paris, pero antes le había dado tiempo a casarse con la millonaria, Joan Guinness, madre del actual Aga Khan, también con Rita Hayworth y había enamorado a la famosa modelo Bettina, musa de Dior y de su New Look.Karim Aga Khan IV es contemporáneo de Don Juan Carlos, tiene 83 años, estuvo tutelando a la infanta Elena, pero también a la infanta Cristina y su primogénita, Zahra Khan, es amiga de toda la vida de Elena, Cristina y Felipe de Borbón, los hijos de Cristina y Zahra han estudiado en el mismo colegio suizo y aunque sea en distintas aéreas, las dos trabajan en la AKDN, Aga Khan Development Network, que también tiene una impresionante sede en Portugal, donde llevan trabajando 35 años. La conexión con Portugal no es baladí, si también tenemos en cuenta que el presidente portugués, estuvo hace unas semanas en el palacio de La Zarzuela en visita privada con los dos reyes presentes.
They have known each other since they were little, when they shared a desk in the boarding school in Switzerland. He helped his daughter Cristina in Geneva and maybe now him
On Wednesday, when they only talked about the Dominican Republic, I put on the table the name of Aga Khan, a man who calls Juanito, the King Emeritus, who is always there for what is good and what is necessary, and who has the merit of the discretion. The problem of communications that leave open important questions such as the place where King Juan Carlos will establish his residence abroad, if it is a temporary measure or until the end of his days and with whom or how he will be given shelter, give rise to that those questions that remain in the air are tried to clear.
Reviewing the history of the royal family, there is a discreet character, who is always there when needed and who has more than a human mind could imagine, a man who calls King Juan Carlos, "Juanito" because they shared a desk In the Swiss boarding school that should not be awarded with marquisates or medals because he has all of them inherent to his figure and, in case he needed something earthly, Queen Elizabeth granted him, sixty years ago, the distinction of Her Highness. The king of more than twenty million Ishmaelites is like God on earth because he is a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. Even saying his name imposes: the Aga Khan. In full confinement, Pedro Campos, told me that his house in Sanxenxo had the doors open for Don Juan Carlos, also the Fanjul family and the Dominican Republic have a lot of attraction and Don Juan Carlos has the dependencies of his mansions at his disposal when he wants. In fact, King Emeritus is not an unknown person in those places, but we are in the midst of a global pandemic, Don Juan Carlos is 82 years old and is leaving Spain, at his own request, as a result of the forceful measures that King Felipe VI has taken and the reaction of the sovereign people to clarify their financial situation.
Shelter in the castle
And there the Aga Khan would enter once again, who sheltered in his castle at Chantilly the incipient love that was brewing in France between the Infanta Elena and Jaime de Marichalar. He also housed the horses of Don Juan Carlos' first-born in his stables when an outbreak of African horse sickness was declared in Spain. In those stables he raises his prized thoroughbreds, like Shelgar the most expensive racehorse in the world who was kidnapped and never appeared. The Aga Khan refused to pay ransom for him. Doña Sofía has also known and appreciated the possessions of the Aga Khan and when the Infanta Cristina began to be questioned, without fanfare and with discretion, as does a friend you can trust, the king of the Ismailis offered her a source of income and a coverage in Geneva.
where they have been working for 35 years. The connection with Portugal is not trivial, if we also take into account that the Portuguese president was a few weeks ago in the palace of La Zarzuela on a private visit with the two kings present.
A man who became His Highness the Aga Khan IV very young at the wish of his grandfather, in addition to his father, the "play boy", Aly Khan, died crashed into a tree in the Bois de Bologne in Paris, but had previously given him time to marry the millionaire, Joan Guinness, mother of the current Aga Khan, also with Rita Hayworth and had fallen in love with the famous model Bettina, muse of Dior and his New Look.Karim Aga Khan IV is a contemporary of Don Juan Carlos, has 83 years, she was guarding the Infanta Elena, but also the Infanta Cristina and her first-born, Zahra Khan, is a lifelong friend of Elena, Cristina and Felipe de Borbón, the children of Cristina and Zahra have studied at the same school Swiss and even in different areas, both work in the AKDN, Aga Khan Development Network, which also has an impressive headquarters in Portugal, where they have been working for 35 years. The connection with Portugal is not trivial, if we also take into account that the Portuguese president was a few weeks ago in the palace of La Zarzuela on a private visit with the two kings present.
The most effective world leader you’ve never heard of,
and how we can “partner” with him, investing in Africa
Rarely does any so-called “world leader” impress me. Some of them probably mean well in that superior, “I know better than you do what’s good for you” kind of way.
But in the big scheme of things, they are all elected for very short periods of time in office. Australian Prime Ministers get only three years at a time. US Presidents get four, maximum eight years.
In my view, that means they have little or no realistic chance to effect meaningful change for the good and leave their mark, unless they attempt something radical and reckless in the short term, pandering to certain interest groups.
Therein lies the problem. It takes much longer to effect meaningful change.
To cut to the chase, the list of world leaders, or former world leaders who served in my own adult life-time, whom I admire, is pretty short.
There are two:
- Nelson Mandela. Madiba, as his countrymen affectionately knew him, had his flaws. We all do. But for a man to emerge after being wrongfully imprisoned for decades for his beliefs, to then wipe the slate clean, hold no grudges, and move forward from that day on, to serve in a position of leadership for the betterment of everyone in his country, despite the historical baggage and animosity created by Apartheid, is truly remarkable.
I’m glad he lived a long life, and that many were touched by his dignity, wisdom and grace. It is a crying shame that he was unable to install a competent group of successors to carry on his legacy.
South Africa is one of my favourite countries. It’s an amazing, beautiful place. But in recent times it has unfortunately been ruled mostly by imbeciles. And there’s little on the horizon that looks like an improvement. Mandela would be turning in his grave.
- The Aga Khan. Who? Not many of you will even have heard of him. If you have, what you’ve heard is probably wrong.
The Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. He leads the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam. He took over from his Grandfather, the Aga Khan III, at the age of only 20, in 1957, when he was still a student at Harvard.
His followers number between 15 and 20 million. They are a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-national group bound together by their faith, values, and way of life. They live in approximately 25 different countries around the world. They are, as such, a nation without a homeland.
The Ismailis are a very successful minority group in East Africa. They have been there for hundreds of years, after emigrating from British-controlled India.
There are sizable communities in Kenya, where the Aga Khan spent a large part of his own boyhood, Tanzania, and even Uganda, where the Ismailis were previously expelled by dictator Idi Amin back in the 1970s.
The Aga Khan was instrumental, via his personal friendship with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in negotiating safe passage to Canada for many East African Ismailis following their expulsion from Uganda. Many also settled in the UK at that time, as they had ties to the UK from the time when both India and East Africa were British colonies.
The guiding tenets of the Aga Khan’s world view, which he encourages his followers to adhere to are pluralism, tolerance and a cosmopolitan ethic.
In his own words, “A cosmopolitan ethic accepts our ultimate moral responsibility to the whole of humanity, rather than absolutizing a presumably exceptional part … [it] will honour both our common humanity and our distinctive identities — each reinforcing the other as part of the same high moral calling.”
Circles of Reflection: Exploring the Speeches of Mawlana Hazar Imam
Circles of Reflection (COR) is a program designed to examine speeches made by Mawlana Hazar Imam. Small groups will be formed in each session and guided by a facilitator. The purpose of this initiative is to build on the diversity of thoughts and perspectives to lead to a richer understanding of the speech.
Registered participants will be expected to have read the speech, share their interpretations and learnings, encourage dialogue, and express their personal viewpoints. Sessions will be 45 minutes in length. Multi-faith family members are warmly encouraged to participate.
Join us for the fifth session on Sunday, October 18 at either 1pm PT / 2pm MT / 4pm ET or at 3pm PT / 4pm MT / 6pm ET. We will be discussing Mawlana Hazar Imam's speech at Peshawar University on November 30, 1967.
Registration closes Sunday, October 18 at 10am PT / 11pm MT / 1pm ET.
KHAN DO ‘World’s most elusive billionaire’ and racing mogul’s property empire includes £200m yacht and biggest private jet
17:24, 24 Sep 2021Updated: 19:39, 24 Sep 2021
HE has been called the 'world's most elusive billionaire' and boasts a sprawling property empire that includes a £200million superyacht and the biggest private jet on the planet.
A racing mogul who owned arguably the most famous horse ever, he is a spiritual leader and made headlines for a divorce rumoured to have cost £50million.
Estimated to be worth up to £9.5billion, the Aga Khan lives a life even multi-millionaires can only dream of.
That vast wealth - much of which is used for philanthropic purposes - has also allowed him to indulge in, among many other things, his love of racing.
The owner of infamous racehorse Shergar, he is one of the world's most successful racing magnates and even splashed £2.2m on the restoration of what has been labelled 'the most luxurious stables ever built'.
Based in Chantilly in northern France, the yard was originally constructed by an 18th century French prince who believed he would be reincarnated as a horse.
That, as far as we know, never happened and the property fell into a state of disrepair before the Aga Khan stepped in.
Now, towering over the grounds is a jaw-dropping chateau, enough room in the stables for 250 horses and a sign welcoming the public to look around.
Truth be told though, spending more than £2m on this was a mere drop in the ocean compared to the £200m the 84-year-old is said to have spent on his superyacht.
Named The Alamshar after one of his horses, the vessel was commissioned in the 1990s with the objective of being the fastest in the world.
£200M YACHT NAMED AFTER HORSE
A stunning 174ft palace on the seas, the yacht was beset by 'challenging' construction issues and wasn't actually finished until 2014.
Even then it fell short of its target of being able to travel 70 knots (80mph), maxing out at 45 knots (51.7mph).
Issues aside, the jaw-dropping yacht, which is powered by six gas turbines and 112 water jets, looks incredible out at sea.
The Aga Khan's most famous horses
Won the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and King George.
Was famously kidnapped and reportedly shot.
Sea The Stars
Won the Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas and, among others, the Arc de Triomphe.
Won the Arc de Triomphe among others.
Won the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and Arc de Triomphe.
While in the sky his recently purchased Bombardier Global 7500 - which claims to be the world's biggest private jet - really stands out.
According to manufacturer Bombardier, the Global 7500 has a 'luxurious interior with four true living spaces, a full size kitchen and a dedicated crew suite'.
WORLD'S BIGGEST PRIVATE JET
It has a range of 7,700 nautical miles, top speed of 710mph, is 111ft long and 104ft wide, including wings.
With properties all over the world that can come in handy when the Aga Khan, a leader to some 15million Ismaili Muslims, wants to jet off to the island he owns in the Bahamas.
Reportedly purchased for just over £73m in 2009, the 349-acre private retreat was once said to have had Hollywood stars Johnny Depp and Nicolas Cage as neighbours on their own nearby private islands too.
But despite the jets and yachts, it hasn't always been plain sailing.
PRIVATE BAHAMAS ISLAND
The Aga Khan made headlines in 2014 when it was reported his divorce to second wife Gabriele Thyssenn was settled for £50m.
Still, the 'world's most connected man' - as he was called in one article - can rely on a vast network of friends for company.
That has included the Queen and William and Kate, who the Aga Khan was pictured alongside in London in 2019.
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