"A golden jubilee is a valuable opportunity for putting the present into historical perspective. In that spirit, I would begin today by emphasizing how my concern for education grows intimately out of my family history. It was just a century ago that my late Grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, began to build a network of educational institutions which would eventually include some 300 schools, many of them in East Africa.
My late Grandfather, who was also the founding figure of Aligarh University in India, was renewing a tradition which stretches back over 1000 years, to our forefathers, the Fatimid Imam-Caliphs of Egypt, who founded Al-Azhar University and the Academy of Knowledge in Cairo. And going back even further, I would cite the words of the first hereditary Imam of the Shia Muslims, Hazrat Ali Ibn Abi Talib, who emphasized in his teachings that “No honour is like knowledge.”"
The quote from Hazrat Ali comes from a speech given by Mowlana Hazar Imam at the Tutzing Evangelical Academy in Germany, upon receiving the Tolerance Award, May 20th 2006:
I cite Hazrat Ali's words....: "No belief is like modesty and patience, no attainment is like humility, no honour is like knowledge, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation". Hazrat Ali's regard for knowledge reinforces the compatibility of faith and knowledge. And his respect for consultation is, in my view, a commitment to tolerant and open-hearted democratic processes(Aga Khan IV)
I wrote a piece on the uninterrupted thread of the search for knowledge in Shia Ismaili Islam here:
2)"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)
3)"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.)
Speaking about the "workings of the Creator's physical world" and "the creation and destruction of stars", here is an article that appears in today's Toronto Star about a dying star that began to shed material from itself about 30,000 years ago, when the Neanderthals were beginning to die out in Europe. Much of the material being shed are the elements carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and others, all created inside the star through the process of nuclear fusion and all of which are elements essential to life as we know it:
Dying star's huge, comet-like tail amazes scientists
Aug 15, 2007 07:15 PM
WASHINGTON – A large star in its death throes is leaving a huge, turbulent tail of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen in its wake that makes it look like an immense comet hurtling through space, astronomers said Wednesday.
Nothing like this has ever previously been witnessed in a star, according to scientists who detected it using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, an orbiting space telescope that observes the cosmos in ultraviolet light.
This tail, spanning a stunning distance of 13 light-years, was detected behind the star Mira, located 350 light-years from Earth in the "whale" constellation Cetus.
"There's a star with a tail in the tail of the whale," said one of the researchers, astronomer Mark Seibert of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Pasadena, California.
A light year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year.
Rocketing through our Milky Way galaxy at 80 miles per second – literally faster than a speeding bullet – the star is spewing material that scientists believe may be recycled into new stars, planets and maybe even life.
"We believe that the tail is made up of material that is being shed by the star which is heating up and then spiralling back into this turbulent wake," said astronomer Christopher Martin of California Institute of Technology, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature.
Mira is a so-called "red giant" star near the end of its life. Astronomers believe our sun will become a similar red giant in 4 to 5 billion years, but they doubt it will develop such a tail because it is not moving through space as quickly.
"It's giving us this fantastic insight into the death processes of stars and their renewals – their phoenix-like revivals as their ashes get cycled backed into the next generation of stars," added Michael Shara of the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University in New York.
Shara said he expects that as this telescope continues mapping the cosmos in ultraviolet light for the first time, other similar stars may be discovered. "There must be lots more of these things," Shara said.
NASA images show the tail as a glowing light-blue stream of material including oxygen, carbon and nitrogen.
This material has been blown off Mira gradually over time – the oldest was released roughly 30,000 years ago as part of a long stellar death process – and is enough to form at least 3,000 future Earth-sized planets, the scientists said.
The astronomers were surprised to find this unique feature in Mira, a well-known star studied since the 16th century. Mira (pronounced MY-rah) stems from the Latin word for "wonderful."
Despite having about the same mass as the sun, Mira has swollen up to over 400 times the size of the sun, meaning the force of gravity is having a hard time holding it together, Seibert said.
The tail stretching 13 light-years is thousands of times the length of our solar system. The nearest star to Earth, called Proxima Centauri, is located 4 light-years away.
While this star looks like a comet, stars and comets are quite different celestial bodies. Comets in our solar system are relatively small objects made up of rock, dust and ice trailed by a tail of gas and dust.
Unlike our solitary sun, Mira is a so-called binary star traveling through space orbiting a companion believed to be the burnt-out, dead core of a star, known as a white dwarf.
Scientists think Mira in time will eject all its gas, leaving a colourful shell known as a planetary nebula that also gradually will fade leaving behind a white dwarf(end of newspaper article).
The NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive also put up this picture of the above dying star and its remarkable tail:
Back home-sweet-home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada after a 14,000km, 14 U.S. State, 4 Canadian Province road trip.
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 hundred years BC)