President Museveni decorated the Aga Khan during the Independence Day celebrations at Bushenyi-Ishaka Grounds in Bushenyi District.
By Alfred Tumushabe
President Yoweri Museveni on Monday awarded His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, the 'Most Excellent Order of Pearl of Africa, The Grandmaster' to recognise his decades of work and contribution to Uganda’s development.
President Museveni decorated the Aga Khan during the Independence Day celebrations at Bushenyi-Ishaka Grounds in Bushenyi District.
The Aga Khan has enormous investments in education, energy, health and hotel and tourism, media among others, in the country.
The Aga Khan, who is the Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, arrived in the country on Sunday ahead of today’s 55th Independence anniversary and held a meeting with President Museveni and other senior government officials at State House Entebbe.
Earlier, during a media briefing at the Uganda Media Centre, Presidency Minister, Ms Esther Mbayo hinted on why Uganda was honouring His Highness the Aga Khan.
“He will receive a special honour because of the immense economic contributions he has made to our country and indeed the whole world,” Ms Mbayo said.
Mawlana Hazar Imam presented with Uganda’s highest honour
Earlier today, Mawlana Hazar Imam was conferred with the Most Excellent Order of Pearl of Africa by His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, as part of Uganda’s 55th Independence Day celebration.
Held in Bushenyi Municipal Grounds, Uganda’s Independence Day consisted of jovial celebrations, various cultural performances and renditions of the Ugandan and East African national anthems. President Museveni welcomed Mawlana Hazar Imam as the guest of honour, and acknowledged the Ismaili community’s contribution to the ongoing development of Uganda.
The Most Excellent Order of Pearl of Africa award is the most esteemed civilian decoration of the Ugandan Honour System, and has been presented to only five other individuals in the history of the country. The distinction was granted to Hazar Imam in recognition of exceptional contributions made by Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) institutions to the economic and social development of Uganda. AKDN agencies in the region operate in a number of industry sectors including energy, banking, health, tourism, education, and media.
Upon receiving the award, Hazar Imam expressed his gratitude to President Museveni, and noted about the progress of the country “Your national pathway has been exciting and inspiring to watch and all your friends, including of course myself, look to the future of Uganda in hope, in aspiration, for a better quality of life for all the people of Uganda and of this region of Africa.” He went on to outline his wish for the future, “Our institutions have been here for many decades, [and] it is my hope today that they will participate in improving the quality of life of all the people of Eastern Africa as they build for future generations.”
Excerpt from an article of President Yoweri K. Museveni:
During the celebrations, His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Spiritual leader (Imam) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), was decorated with the most excellent order of the Pearl of Africa medal for his colossal contributions to Uganda’s development and to humanity.
The citation for the award stated that through the Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN), His Highness has made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of Ugandans by providing access to high-quality education, health, hydroelectric power, media services (NTV, KFM, Daily Monitor, The East African), civil society, financial inclusion and hospitality (Serena Hotels).
The AKDN has a long history in Uganda spanning over 100 years in Uganda and East Africa and its activities in the country range from infrastructure projects including the Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Project, the country's first private hydroelectric power project, to a holistic early childhood education programme that operates in underprivileged communities, and from an advanced nursing studies programme to providing essential pharmaceuticals.
The occasion’s special guest, His Highness the Aga Khan, thanked President Museveni for his invitation and award.
“I am honored to celebrate the occasion of the 55th independence anniversary with you. It was inspiring to watch the National Guard marching. Although my community is small in East Africa, it is my hope that they will participate in improving the lives of Ugandans in all works of life,” he said.
The Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa was on Monday conferred upon the Aga Khan. This was at Uganda’s 55th Independence Day festivities in the Western region of the country, close to the world-famous Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The Order of the Pearl of Africa is the country’s highest possible award and it derives its name from Winston Churchill’s 1908 unforgettable encomium of the land as the loveliest on the continent. Uganda has many nicknames, including our jocularly intimate ‘Matoke Republic’, but the ‘Pearl’ is one of which Ugandans are proudest, regardless of its colonial origins.
Anyway, the Order of the Pearl, instituted in 2005, is a very rarely-awarded honour. The first of its so-far five recipients was, I believe, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, posthumously. It is normally reserved for Heads of State and Government.
This, indeed, is what had me prick my ears when I heard that the Aga Khan was going to be the Guest of Honour at the independence celebrations, and he was to be vested with the Pearl of Africa Order. I could not help wondering if the Aga Khan was a Head of State or government somewhere.
Those more knowledgeable than I will already have noticed my ignorance of these matters. Indeed, my ruminations today are a frank admission of such ignorance and a humble plea for enlightenment from those privileged to have inside knowledge of the Shia Ismaili “Imamat” and its Head, the Aga Khan. My curiosity needs no apology, but I should add that I am sure I am not alone in my unawareness of the essential facts of this significant segment of our world and society.
We may read the daily paper, watch a TV programme, resort to a banking, insurance or other financial service, attend school or receive medical care. Hardly are we aware that most of these times we are benefiting from an Aga Khan enterprise. Even more importantly, few of us in East Africa, especially in the urban areas, ever go through the day without interacting with “subjects” of the Aga Khan, at work, at school or at play.
This already hints at the sovereignty, the virtual ‘Head-of-State’ status, of the Aga Khan. But the story is even more intricate and fascinating, as I found out when I started looking around a little.
I will not attempt to tell it in detail, as I cannot claim to have understood it all, and I do not wish to rashly arouse the controversies that are inherent in most such great stories.
Dr. Vali Jamal’s Reflections on His Highness the Aga Khan receiving Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa
Vali Jamal is BA Cambridge and PhD Stanford, author of the book Uganda Asians, concluded at 2333 pages, 10,000 images, after 10.6 years of work, now expected to be launched mid 2018.
Dr. Vali Jamal's Reflections on His Highness the Aga Khan receiving Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of AfricaLiving in Kampala and following the Independence Day celebrations “live” on TV I think there was an opportunity missed here to capitalize on Uganda’s highest medal conferred on the Imam. Media articles could have been prepared to explain the significance of the medal and care could have been taken to include in the citation certain crucial achievements of His Highness and the Aga Khan family in the 60 years of the present Imamat and three Imamats before then.
The medal – called the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa, Class 1 – is Uganda’s highest medal reserved for Heads of State. So far it has been given to only five heads of state, including President Nyerere posthumously. So HH Aga Khan is in exalted company. A Class 2 medal also exists for “Princes”. His Excellency President Museveni was clearly in an expansive mood at the conferral and HH Aga Khan’s response showed the same. The medal can only be bestowed on Uganda’s Independence Day, October 9, and His Highness accommodated to that late in the discussions, and by combining a didar, made Uganda the first Iamaili jamat to be granted the Diamond Jubilee didar. Museveni made it a State Visit, with a Guard of Honour at the airport and a platoon of soldiers even on the jamatkhana compound to escort the Imam. Hazar Imam himself was so pleased at all this that he referred to his medal at the didar the next day and said he would return to Uganda soon. Many murids were hearing of the medal for the first time.
At the national level the citation remained firmly rooted to the ground, more or less a shopping list of what the AKDN had invested in Uganda – effectively in the last two decades, with even the pharmaceutical factory mentioned. It was like HHAK was being honoured as a mere investor. No mention was made that this year was chosen for this medal because it was the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee, nor that one ceremony of the Imam’s coronation was done on the Kampala jamatkhana compound, something very emotional for Uganda Ismailis, as it was a last-minute move, enforced by the withdrawal of the permission by the Kabaka’s government to do the coronation on public land as against Buganda custom. The Aga Khan family’s historical ties to Uganda could have been mentioned, in terms of schools and the dispensaries built by Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III and even further back to HHAK’s grandfather’s grandfather Imam Hassanali Shah Aga Khan I for his guidance to Ismalis to come to East Africa. The “King of Commerce” in Uganda Allidian Visram came under this guidance.
Mention should have been made that to all Uganda Asians, not just Ismailis, and to Uganda government itself, the Aga Khan is part of Uganda’s history as a “hero” at the Uganda expulsion in 1972 for his and his uncle Prince Sadruddin (as UNHCR Head)’s roles in Uganda Asians’ resettlement. Uganda Asians belong in history books because of the expulsion and H H Aga Khan and Prince Sadruddin were part of that saga. Such connections are made in a citation to make it soar. Unfortunately, the reader called us Islamia throughout his speech.
Is it the highest national medal conferred on HHAK by ANY country? I had said so at places but then went to Wiki and found that Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, and Madagascar had conferred their “highest orders” on HHAK at mid-1960s. Are these medals only reserved for Heads of State and HHAK was being recognized as one? The Head of State criterion is important in the comparison. PAKISTAN conferred on HHAK the Nishan-e-Pakistan in 1983. It is only given to Heads of State. In going down the list I find that the first one was conferred on the Shah of Iran in 1959 and later honourees included the Queen of England, President Nixon and Indian Prime Minster Morarlji Desai. Mandela is there. We don’t know about the African awards – who were included – but seeing the Pakistan list we could say that is THE highest honour to HHAK so far.
The Honorary Citizenship of Canada conferred on HHAK, as early as 2005, has the title Honorary Companion of the Order of Canada. It is Canada’s SECOND highest medal, given so far to only six other people, including Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kii.
Georgia’s Governor Deal presents His Highness the Aga Khan with Proclamation on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee
“For 60 years, the Aga Khan has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to improving the human condition for the betterment of individuals and the advancement of societies around the world.”
Atlanta, USA, 14 March 2018 - Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal today presented His Highness the Aga Khan with a State Proclamation recognising his 60 years of dedication and inspiration towards improving human condition around the world. Governor Deal welcomed His Highness to Georgia on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee – 60th anniversary – as Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslim community.
The presentation was made at a meeting held at the Georgia State Capitol attended by Chief of Staff Chris Riley and Abby Turano, Deputy Commissioner for International Relations, Georgia Department of Economic Development. Upon his arrival, His Highness was received by the Honorable Brian Kemp, Secretary of State for the State of Georgia.
The Governor congratulated His Highness for his profound vision and leadership over the past sixty years. They discussed a shared vision of improving the quality of life for all people by promoting early childhood development, planning for the future, and creating opportunities for economic growth. They also discussed areas of partnership around research in vocational education, healthcare and agriculture as well as best practices in student and faculty exchange.
In the context of his hereditary responsibilities, His Highness has been deeply engaged with the development of countries around the world through the work of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Shia Ismaili Muslim community, inspired by His Highness, actively contributes to the wellbeing of all citizens and community service initiatives in Georgia.
His Highness has, over the last six decades, received numerous decorations, honorary degrees, and awards from institutions and nations across the world. Most recently, in 2017, the Aga Khan received four prestigious honors in the United States: the Foreign Policy Association Medal; the President’s Medal by the Architectural League of New York; the Champion for Global Change Award by United Nations Foundation; and the Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asia Society.
Religious leaders such as the Aga Khan may be difficult to decipher in Western contexts.
On March 14, the governor of Georgia presented a state proclamation to Prince Shah Karim al-Hussaini, the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. The proclamation recognizes the Aga Khan as the 49th hereditary imam, tracing direct lineage to Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima.
There are not many occasions when state entities recognize a religious leader, and a Muslim one at that. It is, therefore, worthwhile to understand the Aga Khan’s work and the interpretation of Islam that he represents.
The proclamation makes reference to the Aga Khan’s “longstanding commitment to improving the human condition” and his work in the global South through the development institution that he founded over 50 years ago, the Aga Khan Development Network. The network operates in more than 30 countries and has a broad scope, which includes education, health care, financial services and cultural and environmental preservation.
At first glance, the Aga Khan appears to be like any other rich philanthropist — another Bill Gates or George Soros perhaps, using his private wealth to venture into previously colonized worlds to rescue its people through service delivery. That, in fact, is one of the ways in which the Aga Khan is popularly viewed in Western contexts: a philanthropist, a social entrepreneur, a do-gooder.
The reduction of the Aga Khan’s work to these trendy idioms, though well-meaning, is misguided. It significantly narrows the scope of his efforts, which he grounds in the faith of Islam. Philanthropy, in the American context, has developed over the course of the 20th century as a way for individuals to deploy their private wealth for the good of the people. Such individuals have also often been able to mold public policy to align with their visions.
However, it is precisely this ability of private actors to influence public policies that makes scholars suspicious of “big” philanthropy. Run by private boards with broad agendas, philanthropies yield extensive political power without public accountability, while relying on public funds and tax breaks for their operation.
Additionally, while some philanthropic endeavors have religious affiliations, increasingly many more are distinctly secular. The emergence of the latter in the West has taken place in a context where religion is presented as a conservative force leading toward intolerance, while notions of tolerance and justice are often linked with secularism — even as scholars have delineated the religious roots of secularism. Religion and religious people, thus, are popularly viewed as being out-of-place in the contemporary moment. Such sentiments make religious leaders such as the Aga Khan difficult to decipher in Western contexts.
The Aga Khan has previously explained:
I am fascinated and somewhat frustrated when representatives of the western world — especially the western media — try to describe the work of our Aga Khan Development Network in fields like education, health, the economy, media, and the building of social infrastructure. Reflecting a certain historical tendency of the West to separate the secular from the religious, they often describe it either as philanthropy or entrepreneurship. What is not understood is that this work is for us a part of our institutional responsibility — it flows from the mandate of the office of Imam to improve the quality of worldly life for the concerned communities.
THE Aga Khan is touring the US as he marks the diamond jubilee of his leadership as the imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community.
Last Sunday (1, at a lunch hosted in honour in Houston, Texas governor Greg Abbott paid tribute to the Aga Khan’s leadership and the achievements of his organisation in improving healthcare and education for people in developing countries.
“We have a state motto – and that motto is friendship. This is a friendship that has lasted many years and that we expect will continue many years into the future,” the governor said.
The Aga Khan said: “Civil society is a key resource for development. Everything we do together to invest and enhance the capacity of civil society is a blessing that you give to the populations in those countries.”
A military honour guard and saber salute by the Texas A&M Ross volunteers greeted the Aga Khan upon his arrival in Texas. Secretary of state Rolando Pablos, city of Houston chief of protocol Deanea LeFlore, and Sugar Land mayor Joe Zimmerman welcomed the Aga Khan and the mayor presented him with a Key to the City of Sugar Land.
Last Wednesday (14), Georgia governor Nathan Deal presented the Aga Khan with a state proclamation in recognition of his philanthropic activities.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas recognized Hazar Imam in the US House of Representatives for his efforts in fostering "progress & peace through hope." @RepEBJ is shown here with Council for Central US Pres, Nizar Didarali, at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center, Plano.
President Macron awards Aga Khan France’s highest honour, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
Paris, France, 20 September 2018 - President Emmanuel Macron yesterday awarded His Highness the Aga Khan, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (La Grand-croix de la Légion d’honneur), in recognition of his contribution to humanity and achievements in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations around the world.
The country’s highest national medal of honour was bestowed upon the Aga Khan at a ceremony at le Quai d’Orsay by France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian in commemoration of the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee, commemorating 60 years as Imam (spiritual leader) of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslim community.
Minister Le Drian congratulated His Highness on his 60 years of commitment and dedication towards the cause of peace, pluralism and development. “You are Sir, a man true to your commitments, a man of his word and a man of peace. And for all that you have accomplished in your life for our country, and for the stability of the world, France wishes tonight to warmly express its gratitude by elevating you to the dignity of the Grand Cross in the order of the Legion of Honour. Sir, on behalf of the President of the Republic, and by virtue of the powers conferred upon me, we bestow you the dignity of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.”
Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:43 am Post subject: October 2018, The Aga Khan gets Honorary Degrees in Canada
19 Oct. 2018 - H.H. The Aga Khan, Imam of the Ismailis community will be awarded Honorary Degrees by UBC and SFU universities in a joint ceremony in Vancouver, Canada on October 19th 2018. During the same visit, he will perform the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta.
His Highness the Aga Khan to receive UCalgary honorary degree
University’s highest honour to be conferred Oct. 17
By University Relations Staff
September 24, 2018
His Highness the Aga Khan will receive an honorary degree from the University of Calgary on Oct. 17. Photo courtesy Aga Khan Development Network
His Highness the Aga Khan will receive an honorary degree from the University of Calgary on Oct. 17.
University of Calgary Chancellor Deborah Yedlin and President and Vice-Chancellor Elizabeth Cannon are pleased to announce that His Highness the Aga Khan will be the recipient of an honorary degree at a special ceremony next month.
Bestowed upon individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition, the honorary degree is UCalgary’s highest academic honour.
“The University of Calgary has had strong ties with His Highness the Aga Khan and his social development and cultural networks for decades,” says Chancellor Yedlin. “From international partnerships and exchanges to programs launched right here in Calgary that bring our communities together, so many of us have benefited from his vision for a more integrated and understanding society around the globe.”
“As someone who has dedicated his life as a world leader, His Highness has fostered initiatives focusing on health, education, cultural and economic revitalization and development, as well as the advancement of pluralism, civil society and protection of the environment,” says President Cannon.
“His leadership serves as an example of how we can all work together to support social and human development, both at home and around the world."
His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. The Ismaili Muslims are a global 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.
Over the past six decades, His Highness has been deeply engaged with the development of countries around the world and improving the quality of life of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. He is the founder and the Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), an institutional endeavour that realizes the social conscience of Islam. AKDN consists of private, non-denominational agencies working in over 30 countries around the world.
The University of Calgary recognizes extraordinary achievement in community, national or international services through the awarding of the honorary degree. The Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, is awarded for contributions in any field, including the arts, business, the professions, scholarly pursuits and voluntary activities.
Attendance at the private ceremony is by invitation only; the program will also live-streamed.
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The Aga Khan awarded with honorary degrees from UBC and SFU
Sep 24, 2018 | For more information, contact Thandi Fletcher
The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University are each awarding an honorary doctorate of laws degree to His Highness the Aga Khan in a joint conferral ceremony—a first for both universities.
The honorary degrees, which will be conferred together at a ceremony in Vancouver on Oct. 19, are being awarded in recognition of the Aga Khan’s lifelong service to humanity, and the intersections of his work at UBC and SFU.
“We applaud His Highness the Aga Khan’s outstanding humanitarian contributions,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Santa J. Ono. “In his capacity as spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, his commitment to helping fight poverty and improve health and education for millions of people in underdeveloped and war-torn parts of the world is truly remarkable, and serves as an inspiration to us all.”
Aga Khan Foundation
His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
“His Highness has demonstrated an exemplary international commitment to address the needs of others,” said SFU President and Vice-Chancellor Andrew Petter. “He has in this context supported programs at both of our universities, and we are grateful for his generosity in promoting positive change in the lives of young people and in advancing the well-being of the communities we serve.”
The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims around the world. In realizing the social conscience of Islam, His Highness founded the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network of development agencies that operates universities, hospitals and school programs in underdeveloped and war-torn nations. He also works with Canadian governments and organizations on projects that promote inclusive, sustainable development and improve quality of life. For over 60 years, His Highness has been one of the world’s leading advocates of a pluralist, cosmopolitan ethic, one that embraces human diversity as an opportunity and as an antidote to social fragmentation and division.
UBC and SFU students, faculty and staff have benefited from the Aga Khan’s lifelong humanitarian work.
Through a partnership with the Aga Khan Academies’ Teacher Preparation Programme, UBC’s IB Education team of faculty and adjunct faculty are providing mentorship to and evaluation of teacher interns in Mombasa, Kenya, who are seeking International Baccalaureate (IB) certification.
“We are grateful to His Highness the Aga Khan for his support of our partnership, which aims to improve the educational opportunities available to young people in Africa and promote a deeper global perspective among teachers and students in B.C.,” said Meredith Fenton, director of IB programs in the faculty of education at UBC. “Our partnership with the Aga Khan Academies reflects the spirit of international mindedness that our educators and learners aim to model, and to which we aspire for the benefit of our teacher candidates and future generations of children in their care.”
SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies and the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations partnered to establish Expressions of Diversity, an internationally renowned summer school on Muslim diversity that provided participants with a critical-historical understanding of Muslims within larger and more diverse frameworks.
“Expressions of Diversity opened up many windows into the historical heritage and contemporary relevance of Muslim peoples globally,” says Derryl MacLean, the founder of SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies. “The program was groundbreaking for its breadth and depth and played an important role in providing balanced access to the latest research on Islam and Muslims for SFU students and an international audience.”
The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s entrepreneurial spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. UBC encourages its students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.
As Canada’s engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded more than 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 150,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.
Attendance at this event is by invitation only. Media interested in attending the ceremony on Oct. 19 are asked to RSVP before noon on Oct. 18. Please contact email@example.com to apply for media accreditation.
The Aga Khan to receive honorary degrees from UBC and SFU
The degrees are being awarded in recognition of "the Aga Khan’s lifelong service to humanity, and the intersections of his work" at the schools.
Updated: September 25, 2018
The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims, will be in Vancouver next month to accept a pair of honorary degrees.
The University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University will each award an honorary doctorate of laws degree to the Aga Khan on Oct. 19 in a joint conferral ceremony, which will be a first for both universities.
The degrees are being awarded in recognition of “the Aga Khan’s lifelong service to humanity, and the intersections of his work at UBC and SFU.”
“We applaud His Highness the Aga Khan’s outstanding humanitarian contributions,” said Santa Ono, UBC president and vice-chancellor. “In his capacity as spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, his commitment to helping fight poverty and improve health and education for millions of people in underdeveloped and war-torn parts of the world is truly remarkable, and serves as an inspiration to us all.”
The Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims around the world, founded the Aga Khan Development Network, a global system of development agencies that operates universities, hospitals and school programs in underdeveloped and war-torn nations.
“His Highness has demonstrated an exemplary international commitment to address the needs of others,” said Andrew Petter, SFU president and vice-chancellor. “He has in this context supported programs at both of our universities, and we are grateful for his generosity in promoting positive change in the lives of young people and in advancing the well-being of the communities we serve.”
The Aga Khan will also receive an honorary degree from the University of Calgary on Oct. 17.
Aga Khan to get honorary degree from U of C
Published: September 25, 2018
The University of Calgary will be giving the Aga Khan its highest academic honour next month.
Deborah Yedlin, chancellor for the university, announced Monday that the Aga Khan will be given an honorary degree from the university at a ceremony Oct. 17 because of his “strong ties” with the school and his work with “social development and cultural networks.”
“From international partnerships and exchanges, to programs launched right here in Calgary that bring our communities together, so many of us have benefited from his vision for a more integrated and understanding society around the globe,” Yedlin said in a statement.
The Aga Khan visited Calgary in May to mark 60 years as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, whose members come from a diverse background across Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
Honorary degrees are awarded by the U of C for “extraordinary achievement in community” and “national or international services” to individuals whose “notable achievements and community service merit recognition.”
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UBC, SFU to jointly recognize the Aga Khan’s philanthropy with honorary degrees
Written by Braydon Black
Sept. 29, 2018
The Aga Khan will also receive a separate honorary degree from the University of Calgary on October 17.
In a decision described as “a first for both universities,” UBC and Simon Fraser University (SFU) will be jointly celebrating the His Highness the Aga Khan’s contributions to humanity.
In a joint ceremony on October 19, both universities will formally award their respective honorary doctorate of laws degrees, which recognize outstanding achievement or significant contribution to the public good, to the Aga Khan.
The 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan is well known for his philanthropy. In particular, he founded the Aga Khan Development Network — a major network of organizations that works to improve social, economic, and cultural conditions globally.
“In his capacity as spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, his commitment to helping fight poverty and improve health and education for millions of people in underdeveloped and war-torn parts of the world is truly remarkable, and serves as an inspiration to us all,” said UBC President Santa Ono in a press release.
At UBC, the university and the Aga Khan Academies’ Teacher Preparation Programme are working to help young Kenyan teachers achieve International Baccalaureate (IB) teaching certifications.
At SFU, the university’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies and Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations created Expressions of Diversity — a summer school on Muslim diversity — to expand the understanding of Muslims.
“He has in this context supported programs at both of our universities, and we are grateful for his generosity in promoting positive change in the lives of young people and in advancing the well-being of the communities we serve,” said SFU President Andrew Petter in the press release.
At UBC, the Senate’s Tributes Committee reviews nominations for the accolade before putting them forward to the Senate for approval. In particular, the committee strongly considers how the conferral will reflect on the university.
“Is [this person] representing something that UBC would want to be associated with?” said Committee Chair Dr. Sally Thorne. “Will there be parts of our UBC community that will be excited and honoured by having that individual come?”
According to her, the university has been planning to award this honorary degree to the Aga Khan for quite some time.
“[The] Aga Khan has been brought to our committee several times over the years, and the earliest one that I can identify is 2007,” said Thorne. “The issue was never that he was unwilling, but unable to come.”
She then discussed the difficulty of scheduling his award conferral to coincide with a graduation ceremony, given his status.
“Like many top world leaders, he would be somebody who you can’t just book […] to come to our graduation,” Thorne said. “It isn’t the first time we’ve given [an honorary degree] outside of a graduate ceremony, but it’s quite rare. It happened for the Dalai Lama.”
Rahim Talib — a volunteer with the.Ismaili, the official website of the Ismaili Muslim community — expressed enthusiasm about the joint award conferral and its meaning to the community.
“It is fantastic that so many reputable Canadian universities like UBC are honouring His Highness’ lifelong contributions to humanity,” Talib said. “His Highness emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of higher education … [which can] be applied to serve humanity and in particular those less fortunate.”
The Aga Khan will also receive a separate honorary degree from the University of Calgary on October 17.
His Highness the Aga Khan: An inspiration to us all
Later this week, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University will present His Highness the Aga Khan with a joint honorary doctorate of laws degree—the first joint honorary degree conferred by the two universities together.
The honorary degree, which will be conferred during a special ceremony at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Oct. 19, is being awarded in recognition of the Aga Khan’s lifelong service to humanity.
His Highness Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini is the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, a position that he has held for more than 61 years. In that role, he is the spiritual leader of the global, multi-ethnic community whose members are spread among more than 25 countries, including Western-Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America. There are more than 100,000 Ismailis in Canada, alone.
Best known for the good works of the Aga Khan Development Network, which invests close to $1 billion a year in health, education and cultural development projects around the world, the Aga Khan has demurred when people called him a philanthropist, saying rather that it is central to his mandate that he use his office to improve the quality of life not only of the Ismaili community but of all the world’s most vulnerable.
The Aga Khan has received honours and awards from around the world, including an honorary Canadian citizenship and membership in the Order of Canada as an Honorary Companion.
As the leader of the Ismaili Muslims, he continues to distinguish himself as a champion of pluralism, always emphasizing the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith – one that teaches compassion, advocates for the needs of the most vulnerable, and upholds the dignity of humankind.
UBC has many ties with His Highness the Aga Khan. We are proud to have partnered with the University of Central Asia (UCA), founded by the Aga Khan, in developing course material for the UCA program in Earth and Environmental Science. Similarly, we have helped the Aga Khan Academy gain recognition for its Teacher Preparation Programme and we have collaborated with the Aga Khan Music Initiative in cultural and artistic presentations. Each such collaboration also increased our regard for the work and influence of His Highness the Aga Khan. At a time when the causes of international education, human development and pluralism are all in need of strong leadership, the Aga Khan consistently exhibits a strong hand, guiding and supporting his own community and setting an example of exceptional moral leadership for the world.
UBC has been an eager partner and a fortunate beneficiary of the efforts and generosity of the Ismaili community, from Aga Khan University President and former UBC Governor Dr. Firoz Rasul to members of the Ismaili Students Association. We are proud to honour the Aga Khan, in thanks, in admiration and in anticipation of greater collaborations to come.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor
Both universities to confer an honorary doctorate of law to the Aga Khan in a joint ceremony
Written by: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
In a first-of-its-kind event, SFU and UBC are each conferring an honorary doctorate of laws degree to His Highness Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan in a joint ceremony.
The Aga Khan founded the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network of development aid agencies working through post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and school programs. This network is particularly active in underdeveloped and war-torn nations. The Aga Khan, who is the 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims, founded this network as an expression of the social conscience of Islam.
The awards mark both universities’ recognition of the Aga Khan’s lifetime of philanthropy. “His Highness has demonstrated an exemplary international commitment to address the needs of others,” said SFU president and vice-chancellor Andrew Petter to SFU News.
The award ceremony will also honour Aga Khan’s collaborative work with UBC and SFU. Petter expressed gratitude for the Aga Khan’s support provided to programs at both universities. “We are grateful for his generosity in promoting positive change in the lives of young people and in advancing the well-being of the communities we serve.” said Petter.
The Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at the Aga Khan University worked with the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU to set up a world-renowned summer school on Muslim diversity called “Expressions of Diversity.” This program helps participating students understand Muslims in a diverse framework and larger context in a critical and historical manner.
“Expressions of Diversity opened up many windows into the historical heritage and contemporary relevance of Muslim peoples globally,” stated Derryl MacLean, founder of SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies. Maclean praised the program for its large role in making current research on Muslims and Islam accessible to all.
The Aga Khan also works with the Canadian government on projects increasing inclusive and sustainable development. His contributions through institutions like UBC have helped impact students from around the world.
For instance, UBC’s International Baccalaureate (IB) education team of faculty and adjunct faculty, in association with The Aga Khan Academies’ Teach Preparation Programme, offers mentorship to and assessment of interning teaching candidates seeking IB certification in Mombasa, Kenya.
“We applaud His Highness the Aga Khan’s outstanding humanitarian contributions,” said UBC president and vice-chancellor, professor Santa J. Ono.
The joint conferral ceremony by SFU and UBC is to be held on October 19 in Vancouver.
This is an important question and one a university often considers.
While both teaching and learning are at the heart of what post-secondary institutions are about, we also have a responsibility to take education beyond preparing graduates to succeed in their chosen fields.
The education of today is as much about teaching others as it is about teaching ourselves — with the intent to understand our roles in society and learn how we can nurture a sense of community service from within, whether in our own backyard or on the other side of the world.
On Wednesday, the University of Calgary will confer an honorary degree on His Highness the Aga Khan.
As someone who has dedicated his life to the betterment of others, and to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity — and the right — to a healthier, improved life, His Highness has led by example by showing us all how service to our communities impacts those around us, as well as those who we may never know.
It’s not often a post-secondary institution is provided with an opportunity to celebrate its connection and shared commitment to community service with an individual who exemplifies what it means to integrate pluralism and a sense of commitment into our lives.
The ceremony will be attended by members of the university community, the Ismaili Muslim community and the community at large. This is especially fitting, as His Highness the Aga Khan has dedicated his life to promoting the concept of a pluralistic society, in which understanding, support and acceptance are valued ingredients.
The University of Calgary will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Aga Khan University (AKU), a step forward in the long-standing and deep connections our institution has shared with the incredible network developed by His Highness.
When your last name is Arab, and you’re not a Muslim or terrorist, you defy a few Islamophobic stereotypes yourself.
I’m Arab in name, but my father’s religion is Maronite Catholic – an early branch of the Roman Catholic Church. I was brought up Roman Catholic and indoctrinated in Papal infallibility. So, the idea of the Aga Khan, a spiritual leader who represents all of the foibles and eccentricities of us mere mortals, it is itself a revelation, never mind the many other ways he smashes stereotypes about Muslims.
The Aga Khan, a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, has a dualistic approach to life. He lives firmly in both the material and spiritual worlds. This duality is reflected in an interview he gave Vanity Fair.
“An Imam is not expected to withdraw from everyday life,” he said. “On the contrary, he’s expected to protect his community and contribute to their quality of life.
“Therefore, the notion of the divide between faith and world is foreign to Islam. The imamate does not divide world and faith. That’s very little understood outside Islam.”
Those words embody the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of 15 million people around the world, including 120,000 in Canada, who belong to the Ismaili faith.
Theirs is a religion that is peaceful and progressive, fueled by philanthropy to overcome the challenges of everyday life.
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