Legacy of Jubilees – Silver Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam: “…the issue of improving the living conditions of the poor has long been of the deepest concern to me.”

“…the visual, physical and emotional  impact of a decent home can light the spirit of human endeavour. A proper home can provide the bridge across that terrible gulf between utter poverty and the possibility of a better future….”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Bombay, India, January 17, 1983

1983

“When I assumed the responsibilities of the Imamat in 1957, I was eager — as I still am — to see that the countries where my followers live are sound and stable, that they are countries with clear development horizons, countries where, following my grandfather’s example, I could help to underwrite the integrity of the state and to contribute to improving the quality of life for all communities, not just my own. I hoped to help bridge the gulf between the developed and the developing worlds. This aspiration, I felt, was particularly appropriate to the Imamat because of its commitment to broad social objectives without political connotations, save in its concern for the fundamental freedom of its followers to practise the faith of their choice.”
Mawlana  Hazar Imam
Dinner Hosted by the Council for Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore
January 9, 1983

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“…declaring the Aga Khan Baug ready to receive the first of the 344 needy families who will eventually fill its apartments means so much to me. This occasion is not only a part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, marking the 25th anniversary of my accession to the Imamat of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. It is a milestone in the Muniwarabad Charitabke Trust’s hopes of making a positive contribution to India’s housing efforts and improving the quality of life for some of this great city’s urban poor, people who might otherwise see no glimmer of hope in their futures.

…despite the sentimental attachment of all my family and the Jamat to Malabar Hill, we decided to donate the property so that it could be sold and the proceeds devoted to re-housing the poor. At the same time, we gave land in Pune to the Muniwarabad Charitable Trust.

….the best way to assist these unfortunate people is through a policy of all-enveloping support: improving health care, educational facilities and housing. One of my earlier concerns in social welfare in India was with housing, ….the visual, physical and emotional  impact of a decent home can light the spirit of human endeavour. A proper home can provide the bridge across that terrible gulf between utter poverty and the possibility of a better future….

…housing is the most difficult area of social development to appraise in terms of human, as opposed to architectural results. It is far easier to quantify the effects of providing better education or health care facilities against their costs. How do you measure the benefits of a family having a decent home, of the father’s dignity, of the mother’s pride, or the children’s sense of security, of better family and better work potential? Nonetheless, the beneficial impact can be tremendous.
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Inauguration of Aga Khan Baug during Hazar Imam
‘s Silver Jubilee visit to India
Bombay, India, January 17, 1983
Speech at AKDN

Aga Khan Baug, Mumbai
Mawlana Hazar Imam speaking at the inauguration of Aga Khan Baug at Versova, Mumbai, India, 1983. Photo: Christopher Little/AKDN

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“… the issue of improving the living conditions of the poor has long been of the deepest concern to me, just as it was to my grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan…. Adequate accommodation is a principal factor in human health and well-being. It can bridge that terrible gulf between utter poverty and the possibility of a better future….

The poor are not mere inanimate, unmotivated, units of deprivation. They are living, thinking people like the rest of us and the closer we can come to making a synthesis between that which they are capable of doing themselves, and that which the State or voluntary agencies can provide, the closer we shall be to achieving shelter for the world’s homeless.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
International seminar sponsored by the Association of Builders and Developers on “Shelter for the Homeless” during Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee visit
Karachi, Pakistan, March 16, 1983
Speech at AKDN

Aga Khan IV
Mawlana Hazar Imam with President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan in discussion at the International Seminar on “Shelter for the Homeless” sponsored by the Association of Builders & Developers, Karachi, 1983 AKDN / Christopher Little

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“When I assumed the responsibilities of the Imamat 25 years ago, I too became involved, as leader of the Ismaili community, in that most vital business, the well-being of ordinary people. Islam, as I scarcely need to remind an audience here, is an all-encompassing faith. It gives direction to man’s life, urging the individual to achieve a balance between material progress and spiritual well-being. But no man, woman or child can hope to achieve such a balance in sickness, illiteracy or squalor.

My grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, initiated education and health services on this subcontinent in the 1880s because he believed that basic education and health care are crucial stepping stones towards mankind’s self-realisation and growth.

Today, members of my community are spread throughout 25 countries. We have many hundred health care units, ranging from teaching hospitals down to village dispensaries and more than 300 education establishments from pre-primary to university. These are on the way to becoming an internationally linked system of voluntary non-profit, Muslim institutions serving all communities, which through their welfare activities are contributing to improving the quality of life in many parts of the Third World…

At the apex of both our medical and our educational institutions is the Aga Khan University in Karachi….The overall objective of the University…will be to make clear and rational judgements as to which foreseeable needs of the developing countries require new educational programmes and, having identified those openings, to address them by the appropriate means, setting the highest standards possible, whether in teaching, in research, or in service.

To do this, the University needs to be an international one and we plan for it to have faculties in other countries. Viewing problems in an international perspective has become an increasingly strong characteristic of the Imamat’s activities.
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Luncheon hosted by the Aga Khan Foundation and the Aga Khan Social Welfare Institutions to commemorate Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee, Islamabad, Pakistan
March 22, 1983
Speech at AKDN

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

 

Countdown to Diamond Jubilee Series

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