Recently, the Aga Khan gave a speech at Brown University. As the head of a community of Muslims spread throughout the world, a community to which I belong, the speech needs some reflection. As the Imam, or Divinely appointed head of the community, it would be a mistake to read his comments as a concern for the moment.
In the beginning of his speech, he congratulates Brown on its first quarter of a millennium, a nod to the fact that as the current holder of the Office of Imam, there is a continuity going back nearly 1400 years to Imam Ali (d. 661), and 250 years is a small fraction of that time.
During this span of time of the Imamate, the message has been amazingly consistent.
Hussein Rashid is an academic and activist. He received his PhD from Harvard University, and his broad research project involves the representation and self-representation of Muslims in America. He has published on Islamicate musics in America, and has delivered talks on the Muslim-American blogistan and Muslims in graphic novels. He has taught at Hofstra University, Fordham University, Harvard University, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Virginia Theological Seminary. He works in New York’s interfaith communities, teaching at Quest: A Center for Spiritual Inquiry