Aga Khan Speaks of Islam and Syria’s Contemporary Challenges: Remarkable Speech of His Highness the Aga Khan in Al Khwabi, Syria, 9 November 2001

 

The Dome of the Treasury in the Omayyad Mosque courtyard. – Photo: AKDN/Patrick Ruchdi

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Al Khwabi, Syria, 9 November 2001 – His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, today described how he saw Syria facing the challenges of the future in the context of the current global situation.

“In recent years, human society has, sadly, witnessed a polarisation of differences amongst people into all forms of conflict,” said the Aga Khan. “This is a situation which I deplore and which cannot be acceptable to any individual who aspires to live life in peace, dignity and security.”

The Aga Khan, who is on an extensive visit to Syria, was speaking to over ten thousand people of different traditions of Islam and of other faiths gathered in this picturesque mountain valley in which large numbers of Ismaili Muslims have had a long history.

“It is thus clearly evident,” said the Aga Khan, “that peace in the decades ahead can only be achieved when the pluralist nature of human society is understood, valued, and built upon, to construct a better future. In Islam, the pluralism of human society is well recognised, and the ethics of its multiple interpretations require that this diversity be accorded respect.”

The Aga Khan reminded his audience that “the shahada (the Muslim profession of faith), La-illaha-Illallah-Muhammadur-Rasullilah – binds a thousand million people who, over the centuries, have come to live in different cultures, speak different languages, live in different political contexts, and who differentiate in some interpretations of their faith.”

“The plurality of the Muslim world” he stressed, “is not just an irreversible historical fact, but it is a strength for which we must be grateful, and a strength that must be continuously harnessed to the building of the future within the ethics of Islam.”

“Any differences must be resolved through tolerance, through understanding, through compassion, through dialogue, through forgiveness, through generosity, all of which represent the ethics of Islam.”

Read full Speech on: AKDN Org

 

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