Prince Amyn Aga Khan: “…art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides.”

Speech by Prince Amyn Aga Khan At the Opening of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto“I believe strongly that art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides. This is the extraordinary purpose, the special mandate, to which this Museum is dedicated… 

I think it is accurate to say that in Muslim societies the pursuit of artistic and cultural excellence has for many centuries been a hallmark of the life in those societies, just as for them the aesthetic experience has always been seen as part of the learning process… 

I would hope that this Museum will contribute to a new period of enlightenment, helping visitors from around the world to rediscover the common symbols that unite us all across the globe, across all civilisations, across time…”
Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Opening of the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
September 12, 2014
Speech at AKDN

“Culture is a dialogue between civilisations, between aesthetics, carried across the globe frequently by commerce, but even by conquest…It binds us together across time and place, reminding us that we all come from the same place, the heart.”
Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Lisbon, Portugal,  March 17, 2016
The Ismaili

Rock crystal ornament inscribed with the name of Fatimid Caliph Imam al-Zahir (r.1021-1036), 14th century European mount. Nuremberg, Germanisches Museum.
Rock crystal ornament inscribed with the name of Fatimid Caliph Imam al-Zahir (r.1021-1036), 14th century European mount. Nuremberg, Germanisches Museum.

“The arts have always had a special significance for my family. More than a thousand years ago my ancestors, the Fatimid Imams, encouraged patronage of the arts and fostered the creation of collections of outstanding works of arts and libraries of rare and significant manuscripts. Many of my family members are art lovers and collectors. In particular my late uncle, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, was a great connoisseur of manuscripts and miniatures…

Faith challenges the artist, as much as the mystic, to go beyond the physical – the outward – to unveil that which lies at the centre and gives life to the periphery. Masterpieces are like the ecstasy of the mystic: a gesture of the spirit, a stirring of the soul that attempts to capture that which is ineffable and beyond being….

At times, the Muslim and Western worlds opposed each other in antagonism and conflict; at others, they cooperated constructively and in harmony. It was during the latter that the greatest scientific, social and economic developments occurred, to the benefit of all. It is my deepest wish that this be the path of the future.
His Highness the Aga Khan
Foreword, Spirit & Life Catalogue

 Aga Khan Museum
Astrolabe. Aga Khan Museum

Convivencia’ – the Spanish word for living together harmoniously – is not a simple concept. It is, of course, the term used to describe the co-existence of different faiths in medieval Spain. The code of ‘convivencia’ was about tolerance and much more….There cannot be any doubt that with more ‘convivencia’ the world today would be a better place, for us and for our children.

I believe strongly that the arts have a special and privileged role in fostering dialogue and knowledge. It is important, today, that the peoples of the Muslim world, their pluralism, the diversity of their interpretations of the Qur’anic faith, the chronological and geographical extent of their history and culture, as well as their ethnic, linguistic and social diversity be better understood. Without words and without proselytizing, art works from ‘other’ cultures bring discovery and understanding of the commonalities of our universal heritage. With this knowledge comes tolerance, hence ‘convivencia’.”
His Highness the Aga Khan
Geographies of Islam

“My first awareness of art from the Islamic world goes back to the library of the Villa Jane-Andrée at Cap d’Antibes where my parents spent much time before and after the Second World War. It was a musty and dark place. The curtains were often drawn to prevent the Mediterranean sun from bleaching the huge 14th-century Mamluk Qur’an which lay open on the rosewood stand, usually at the beginning of ‘Surat-ul-Nas’, which my father never tired of quoting. I was fascinated by the power of its calligraphic counterpoint, the diacritics and illuminations. Though I could not decipher the text, the burnished pages and their dark corners where thumb and forefinger had left their mark over the centuries exuded a special mystery which I never forgot.”
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum – Arts of the Book & Calligraphy

Author: ismailimail

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2 thoughts

  1. Thanks for sharing such a Historic Value from Our Past. Gives lot of Motivation to move and look forward to the Future for our future generations.


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