Wednesday, August 8, 2007

234)Heartiest Mubarak to Ismailis in Kenya,Tanzania and Uganda on the Golden Jubilee visit of Mowlana Hazar Imam, Aga Khan IV, August 12th-23rd 2007.

My link to the eastern part of Africa is not entirely flimsy. I lived in Nairobi, Kenya for one year in 1963 when I was 8 years old and attended the Aga Khan Primary School there. I have been on train and road trips to Mombasa and Kisumu. My wife was born in Uganda and the despot Idi Amin sent her to me here in Canada, where our beloved son and daughter were spawned from the venerable loins of this long-term fling. In 1963 my family and I also drove the entire length of Tanzania on a trip from Pretoria, South Africa to Nairobi, Kenya in a swanky beige VW Beetle(the one with the engine at the back). My maternal grandmother was born in Arusha, Tanzania under the shadow of the big but dormant mountain and my paternal grandmother was born in Kismayu, Kenya. Here's a gift to you to commemorate this unique occasion; the most amazing one-liners and short quotes that I use to nourish, sustain, maintain and promote my blogsite:

AKU=Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

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. (Aga Khan IV, 16 March 1983, AKU)

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 (Aga Khan IV, 25 Sept. 1979)

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(Aga Khan IV, 16 March 1983, AKU)

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." (Aga Khan IV, 16 March 1983, AKU)

By the art of translation, learning was assimilated from other civilizations. (Aga Khan IV, 16 March 1983, AKU)

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(Aga Khan IV, 1993, AKU)

For a Muslim university it is appropriate to see learning and knowledge as a continuing acknowledgement of Allah's magnificence(Aga Khan IV, 1993, AKU)

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.(Aga Khan IV, 2nd December 2006, AKU)

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(Aga Khan IV, 2nd December 2006, AKU)

God has given us the miracle of life with all its attributes: the extraordinary manifestations of sunrise and sunset, of sickness and recovery, of birth and death, but surely if He has given us the means with which to remove ourselves from this world so as to go to other parts of the Universe, we can but accept as further manifestations the creation and destructions of stars, the birth and death of atomic particles, the flighting new sound and light waves(Aga Khan IV, 24th November 1963, Mindanao University, Phillipines,)

Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, our academic or secular elite must be deeply aware of Muslim history, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields(Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan)

Education has been important to my family for a long time. My forefathers founded al-Azhar University in Cairo some 1000 years ago, at the time of the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Discovery of knowledge was seen by those founders as an embodiment of religious faith, and faith as reinforced by knowledge of workings of the Creator's physical world(Aga Khan IV, 27th May 1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

The Muslim world, once a remarkable bastion of scientific and humanist knowledge, a rich and self-confident cradle of culture and art, has never forgotten its past(Aga Khan IV, 27th May 1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

The great Muslim philosopher al-Kindi wrote eleven hundred years ago, "No one is diminished by the truth, rather does the truth ennobles all"(Aga Khan IV, 27th May 1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

In this context, would it not also be relevant to consider how, above all, it has been the Qur'anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah's will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur'an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah's benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: 'Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah'(Aga Khan IV, 19th October 2003, London, U.K.)

The famous verse of 'light' in the Qur'an, the Ayat al-Nur, whose first line is rendered here in the mural behind me, inspires among Muslims a reflection on the sacred, the transcendent. It hints at a cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah's creation and mercy(Aga Khan IV, 19th October 2003, London, U.K.)

A thousand years ago, my forefathers, the Fatimid imam-caliphs of Egypt, founded al-Azhar University and the Academy of Knowledge in Cairo. In the Islamic tradition, they viewed the discovery of knowledge as a way to understand, so as to serve better God's creation, to apply knowledge and reason to build society and shape human aspirations(Aga Khan IV, 25th June 2004, Matola, Mozambique)

Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God’s signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order(Aga Khan III, 4th April 1952, Karachi, Pakistan)

The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being(Aga Khan III, 4th April 1952 Karachi, Pakistan)

The outer universe interpreted as an infinite reality of matter, as a mirror of an eternal spirit, or indeed (as Spinoza later said) an absolute existence of which matter and spirit alike are but two of infinite modes and facets(Aga Khan III, 9th November 1936, London, U.K.)

The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, all is nothing, even the things which seem to us absolutely self-evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine will (Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954).

Islamic doctrine goes further than the other great religions, for it proclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but nevertheless existing in an embryonic state, in all existence in matter, in animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, every atom has its own spiritual relationship with the All-Powerful Soul of God. (Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954).

Imam Hassan has explained the Islamic doctrine of God and the Universe by analogy with the sun and its reflection in the pool of a fountain; there is certainly a reflection or image of the sun, but with what poverty and with what little reality; how small and pale is the likeness between this impalpable image and the immense, blazing, white-hot glory of the celestial sphere itself. Allah is the sun; and the Universe, as we know it in all its magnitude, and time, with its power, are nothing more than the reflection of the Absolute in the mirror of the fountain (Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954).

According to a famous hadith of the Prophet Muhammad: 'The first thing created by God was the Intellect ('aql)'(Circa 7th Century CE)

Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God's creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason(Aga Khan IV, 9th October 2006, Germany)

The Divine Intellect, Aql-i Kull, both transcends and informs the human intellect. It is this Intellect which enables man to strive towards two aims dictated by the faith: that he should reflect upon the environment Allah has given him and that he should know himself. It is the Light of the Intellect which distinguishes the complete human being from the human animal, and developing that intellect requires free inquiry.(Aga Khan IV, 11th November 1985, AKU)

The man of faith, who fails to pursue intellectual search is likely to have only a limited comprehension of Allah's creation. Indeed, it is man's intellect that enables him to expand his vision of that creation(Aga Khan IV, 11th November 1985, AKU)

God – may He be Glorified and Exalted – created Intellect ('aql) first among the spiritual entities; He drew it forth from the right of His Throne, making it proceed from His own Light. Then he commanded it to retreat, and it retreated, to advance, and it advanced; then God proclaimed: 'I created you glorious, and I gave you pre-eminence over all my creatures.'(Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, Circa 765CE)

Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., near the Mount St. Helens Volcano.

Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4(2006)
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3(1952)
Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith if it is used properly. Seek out that knowledge and use it properly:Aga Khan 4(2005)
All human beings, by their nature, desire to know(Aristotle, The Metaphysics, a few centuries BC)