Tuesday, January 15, 2008

299)Quotes of Aga Khan IV, Consolidated.

For those who reach this post through the Google or other search engines, know that this post has now been updated and is now known as Blogpost Four Hundred:

129)Quotes of Aga Khan 4, Consolidated.

I notice that many visitors to this blogsite, when asking for "Aga Khan quotes" or "Farman's of Aga Khan" or "Hazar Imam's farmans" on their respective search engines are directed to only one of the two posts I have on the speeches of Mowlana Hazar Imam. So I am creating a new post entitled 'Quotes of Aga Khan 4, Consolidated' to include information from both of the blogposts I currently have(posts no. 9 and 74):

Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation. [Speech 16 March 1983]

It is no exaggeration to say that the original Christian universities of Latin West, at Paris, Bologna and Oxford, indeed the whole European renaissance, received a vital influx of new knowledge from Islam -- an influx from which the later western colleges and universities, including those of North Africa, were to benefit in turn. [Speech 16 March 1983]

It (Surah of Light from the Quran) tells us that the oil of the blessed olive tree lights the lamp of understanding, a light that belongs neither to the East nor West. We are to give this light to all. In that spirit, all that we learn will belong to the world and that too is part of the vision I share with you. (Speech 25 Sept. 1979)

Above all, following the guidance of the Holy Quran, there was freedom of enquiry and research. The result was a magnificent flowering of artistic and intellectual activity throughout the ummah [Speech 16 March 1983]

The tapestry of Islamic history is studded with jewels of civilization; these jewels poured forth their light and beauty; great statesmen, great philosophers, great doctors, great astronomers; but these individuals, these precious stones were worked into a tapestry, whose dominant theme was Islam, and this theme remained dominant regardless of the swallowing up of foreign lands, foreign cultures, foreign languages and foreign people. [Speech 30 Jan 1970]

What does it (the West) know about the Islamic world? Is anything taught in secondary education? Does anybody know the names of the great philosophers, the scientists, the great theologians? Do they even know the names of the great civilizations? [Interview 2 Feb. 2002"]

The truth, as the famous Islamic scholars repeatedly told their students, is that the spirit of disciplined, objective enquiry is the property of no single culture, but of all humanity. To quote the great physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina: "My profession is to forever journeying, to travel about the universe so that I may know all its conditions." [Speech 16 March 1983]

The faith of a billion people is not part of the general education process in the West - ignored by school and college curricula in history, the sciences, philosophy and geography. [Houston Speech 2002]

The basic problem is the enormous lack of knowledge of the Islamic world in the general world-culture. It's a rather remarkable thing and a very sad thing to me, that over a billion people, their 1400 year history, of civilizations, are simply not part of general education in the general Western world. It's a remarkable knowledge gap. [PTV Interview]

One of the first and greatest research centres, the Bayt al-Hikmah established in Baghdad in 830, led Islam in translating philosophical and scientific works from Greek, Roman, Persian and Indian classics. By the art of translation, learning was assimilated from other civilizations. [Speech 16 March 1983]

"An institution dedicated to proceeding beyond known limits must be committed to independent thinking. In a university scholars engage both orthodox and unorthodox ideas, seeking truth and understanding wherever they may be found. That process is often facilitated by an independent governance structure, which serves to ensure that the university adheres to its fundamental mission and is not pressured to compromise its work for short-term advantage. For a Muslim university it is appropriate to see learning and knowledge as a continuing acknowledgement of Allah's magnificence. As one looks back over the history of learning and of advancement, one sees time and again that centres of learning flourished in strong, outward-looking cultures. Great universities and libraries benefited from the nurturing conditions provided by self-confident civilisations and in turn gave back to those civilisations the useful products of scholarship. The strong university was not a sign of government's weakness, but rather its aspirations and its strength. In the great expansion of Muslim culture from the 8th through the 11th century, centres of learning flourished from Persia to Andalusia. I do not have to tell this audience about the glories of Al-Azhar established 1000 years ago by the Fatimids. This audience knows full well about the foresight of al-Ma'mun and the Timurid empire and in taking knowledge from all quarters and using it to benefit their society. As Ibn Khaldun wrote, "the Muslims desired to learn the sciences of foreign nations. They made them their own through translations. They pressed them into the mould of their own views. They took them over into their own language from the non-Arab languages and surpassed the achievements of the non-Arabs in them." (Aga Khan IV at the 10th anniversary of the founding of the AKU.)

From the seventh century to the thirteenth century, the Muslim civilizations dominated world culture, accepting, adopting, using and preserving all preceding study of mathematics, philosophy, medicine and astronomy, among other areas of learning. The Islamic field of thought and knowledge included and added to much of the information on which all civilisations are founded. And yet this fact is seldom acknowledged today, be it in the West or in the Muslim world, and this amnesia has left a six hundred year gap in the history of human thought. [Brown Univ. 1996].

"A great risk to the modernization of the Islamic world is identity loss — the blind assumption that we should give up all our essential values and cultural expressions to those of other civilizations. In order to contain this risk, for it cannot be totally eliminated, we must re-invigorate our own value systems and cultural expressions. This includes the sciences and the ethical structures that go with them, but also architecture and the design of landscape and towns, literature, music, philosophical thought, and the free space they require, which are unfailing signs of a nation's vitality and confidence". (Address by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Convocation of the Aga Khan University Saturday, 3 December 2005)

Excerpt of address made by Mowlana Hazar Imam to the graduating students at the Aga Khan University, December 2nd 2006:"That quest for a better life, among Muslims and non-Muslims alike, must lead inevitably to the Knowledge Society which is developing in our time. The great and central question facing the Ummah of today is how it will relate to the Knowledge Society of tomorrow.If we judge from Islamic history, there is much to encourage us. For century after century, the Arabs, the Persians, the Turks and many other Islamic societies achieved powerful leadership roles in the world—not only politically and economically but also intellectually. Some ill-informed historians and biased commentators have tried to argue that these successes were essentially produced by military power, but this view is profoundly incorrect. The fundamental reason for the pre-eminence of Islamic civilizations lay neither in accidents of history nor in acts of war, but rather in their ability to discover new knowledge, to make it their own, and to build constructively upon it. They became the Knowledge Societies of their time.Those times are over now. They are long gone. But if some people have forgotten or ignored this history, much of the Ummah remembers it—and, in remembering, asks how those times might be recaptured. There may be as many answers to that question as there are Muslims—but one answer which can be shared across the whole of the Ummah is that we must become full and even leading participants in the Knowledge Society of the 21st Century."(Aga Khan 4).

Excerpt from a speech by Mowlana Hazar Imam in Lahore, Pakistan on December 5th 2006 regarding pluralism, knowledge, intellect, knowledge society:"Stressing the need for the promotion of pluralism of Islamic civilisation, the prince said the spirit of the knowledge society was the spirit of pluralism — a readiness to accept the other, indeed to learn from him, to see difference as an opportunity rather than a threat.He said AKDN had set up an institute in London which was teaching an MA course in Islamic civilisation. He said Ummah also needed to move into the knowledge society.He said AKDN was planning to set up a network of schools in 14 to 16 countries of Asia and Africa, adding these educational institutions would provide world-class education. These schools would ultimately be linked to the university system, he said"(Aga Khan 4).

Regarding the above-quoted excerpts during the recent visit to Pakistan, the theme of knowledge has now become a standard theme in the Imam's speeches as well as farmans. I think back to the farman in Toronto in June 2005, the convocation address at American Cairo in June 2006, the interview to Spiegel magazine in Oct 2006, the AKU convocation speech and the speech in Lahore, Pakistan in Dec 2006. There have been many more in other speeches and farmans, of course, but the acquisition of knowledge in all its nuances, from the rational knowledge provided by a solid education to the transcendental knowledge of the divine, is now a recurrent theme in the Imam's thoughts and messages. All the Imam's educational institutions, from the schools and academies to the universities in Africa and Asia, are designed to impart a solid education in rational knowledge, which can lay the groundwork for incitement towards more esoteric and suprarational forms of knowledge.

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The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)