Beirut, Lebanon, 25 June 2005 - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and founder of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), was today conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, by the American University of Beirut.
His Highness the Aga Khan receiving the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from AUB President John Waterbury and AUB Provost Peter Heath.In its citation, the University praised the Aga Khan as “an avid philanthropist standing at the head of a network of service institutions focused on the have-nots of the world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.”
In his acceptance remarks, the Aga Khan praised the American University of Beirut for its commitment to developing future leaders for the region throughout its 139-year history, noting that AUB was not deterred from its mission of building tolerance and understanding even during the difficult period of the Lebanese civil war.
“The University’s fidelity to its founding notion, that disciplined, objective inquiry is the property of all humanity, attracts faculty and students of high calibre from dozens of countries and cultures, challenged not only to excel in their chosen fields, but to place their knowledge in the wider context of humanity’s pluralist heritage and foundations in the fields of education, health, social and economic development and culture,” he said.
AUB President John Waterbury and The Aga Khan.“Clearly, it has chosen with great wisdom those areas of knowledge which are particularly important for the future of the peoples of this part of the world, educating men and women to graduate with outstanding qualities of leadership.”
He said AUB’s commitment to the universality of knowledge “is a core principle of my own faith – Islam – that learning is ennobling, regardless of the geographic or cultural origin of the knowledge we acquire.”
Such a commitment to learning historically had inspired the Islamic world to create universities that were symbols of “new waves of adventure in the realms of the spirit and the intellect,” including the University of al-Azhar and Dar al-Ilm, established by the Fatimid ancestors of the Aga Khan in Cairo, and counterpart institutions in Baghdad, Cordova, Bukhara, Samarkand and other Muslim centres.
Other honorary degree recipients were:
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The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies whose mandates range from the fields of health and education to architecture, culture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. Its agencies and institutions, working together, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East.
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