Mawlana Hazar Imam: “It is on this ethical premise, which bridges faith and society, that I established the Aga Khan Development Network”

“In all interpretations of Islam, Imams, whether they are Shia or Sunni, are required not only to lead in the interpretation of the faith, but equally to contribute to improving the quality of life of the people who refer to them… It is on this ethical premise, which bridges faith and society, that I established the Aga Khan Development Network.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
at Nobel Institute on Democratic Development, Pluralism and Civil Society,
Oslo, Norway
April 7, 2005

Nobel Institute
Mawlana Hazar Imam delivers his address titled, “Democratic Development, Pluralism and Civil Society,” at the Norwegian Nobel Institute to an audience of academics, diplomats, civil society leaders, and representatives from the Norwegian government and the private sector. Photo: AKDN / Gary Otte

“…I was studying at Harvard some 56 years ago when I inherited the Ismaili Imamat. It is not a political role, as has been mentioned, but let me emphasise that Islamic belief sees the spiritual and material worlds as inextricably connected. Faith should deepen our concern for improving the quality of human life in all of its dimensions. That is the overarching objective of the Aga Khan Development Network…”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Stephen Ogden Lecture at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
March 10,  2014

“The role of the Ismaili Imam is a spiritual one; his authority is that of religious interpretation. It is not a political role. I do not govern any land. At the same time, Islam believes fundamentally that the spiritual and material worlds are inextricably connected. Faith does not remove Muslims — or their Imams — from daily, practical matters in family life, in business, in community affairs.

Faith, rather, is a force that should deepen our concern for our worldly habitat, for embracing its challenges, and for improving the quality of human life. This Muslim belief in the fusion of Faith and World is why much of my attention has been committed to the work of the Aga Khan Development Network…The AKDN — as we call it — is composed of a variety of private, non-governmental, non-denominational agencies implementing many of the Imamat’s responsibilities. We are active in the fields of economic development, job creation, education, and health care, as well as important cultural initiatives.

Most of our AKDN activities have been born from the grass roots of developing countries, reflecting their aspirations and their fragilities…The AKDN’s fundamental objective is to improve the quality of human life. ”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Address to both Houses of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa, Canada
February 27, 2014

“… I have been involved in the field of development for nearly four decades. This engagement has been grounded in my responsibilities as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Community, and Islam’s message of the fundamental unity of “din and dunia,” of spirit and of life. Throughout its long history, the Ismaili Imamat has emphasised the importance of activities that reflect the social conscience of Islam, that contribute to the well being of Allah’s greatest creation – mankind, and the responsibility which Islam places on the fortunate and the strong to assist those less fortunate.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
at the Annual Meeting of The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Tashkent, Uzbekistan

May 5, 2003

Aga Khan Development Network
Aga Khan Development Network. Image: AKDN

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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