Gouvieux, France, 11 July 2017 —His Highness the Aga Khan commenced his Diamond Jubilee, or 60th year as the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslims.
This worldwide celebration brings together the global Ismaili community, partners of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), and government and faith community leaders in over 25 countries. It also commences a year of milestone announcements by the Aga Khan for a global commitment to partnerships based on the principles of ethics in action, peace and pluralism.
“During the Jubilee year and in the future, poverty alleviation will continue to be a primary area of focus for my Jamat and all the AKDN institutions,” said the Aga Khan in an address to the global Ismaili community. The Aga Khan emphasised Diamond Jubilee priorities, including the promotion of early childhood and primary education, strengthening institutions, and invigorating civil society. He thanked partners of the AKDN for their continued contributions.
Over the past six decades, the Aga Khan has transformed the quality of life for millions of people around the world. In the areas of health, education, cultural revitalisation, and economic empowerment, he has worked to inspire excellence and improve living conditions and opportunities including in some of the world’s most remote and troubled regions.
In Islam’s ethical tradition, religious leaders not only interpret the faith but also have a responsibility to help improve the quality of life of their community and the societies among which they live. For the Aga Khan, this has meant dedicating his life to addressing the concerns of the developing world.
Following in the tradition of his forefathers—going back over a thousand years to the establishment, by the Ismaili Imams, of the earliest universities and institutions of learning in the Muslim world—the Aga Khan has continued to emphasise the importance of education for both men and women. He has established centres of learning that are at the forefront of international teaching practice, knowledge and scientific research, including the Aga Khan University, the University of Central Asia, and the Aga Khan Academies.
“Ours is an intellectual tradition which premiates the pursuit of knowledge that is to be used,” said the Aga Khan, “for the good of larger society. Live your faith through acquiring knowledge with which to help others.”