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Social Development

Established in 1973, AKF(UK) has contributed to rural development, health, education, microfinance, early childhood development projects and humanitarian assistance, primarily through human resource development and resource mobilisation.

It maintains relationships with government donors and agencies, particularly in Europe and Japan. By forming partnerships and articulating programme activities and policy discussions, AKF(UK) ensures that these agencies have a better understanding of all AKDN’s programmes. To this end, it conducts thematic seminars, awareness presentations and fund-raising events in the UK and various European capitals.

AKF(UK) also works to increase awareness and understanding of critical development issues through a series of events, which take the form of Partnership Walks and Balls. Thanks to the funds raised over the years, millions of people in selected countries of Africa and Asia have benefited directly from the many projects that focus on their welfare.

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC)
Based in London, the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) aims to strengthen research and teaching on the heritage of Muslim societies as they have evolved over time, and on the challenges these societies face in contemporary settings. The Institute seeks to provide a unique and multifaceted approach to the study of Muslim cultures and societies by approaching the study of Muslim civilisations within a framework of world cultures, the humanities and social sciences. To this end, the Institute examines systems of moral and ethical thought, structures of governance and public life, and artistic and creative expressions.

AKU-ISMC believes it can make a distinct contribution to the understanding of Muslim societies and the emergence of new attitudes among Muslims and non-Muslims toward the concerns of contemporary societies. AKU-ISMC aims to study and raise awareness of the most serious issues faced by Muslim societies today. In doing so, it is aware of the difficulties. The Task Force involved in setting up AKU-ISMC recognised that, "salvation will not be found without the clarity and sanity of the enlightened and disciplined minds that university education at its best can give to the Muslim world".

In their focus on Muslim societies, the Institute's programmes take account of the diversity of cultures where Muslims were, and are, a significant constituency. The approach to the study of Muslim civilisations is within a framework of world cultures, allowing for a wider analytical and comparative perspective.

This approach will entail studying the context of cultural and intellectual history within which religious ideas and practices have meaning. It will require that cultural manifestations such as art, poetry and architecture be examined alongside doctrine, law and religious practice. The Institute will endeavour to understand the character of Muslim civilisations as they have evolved over time, and also to focus on the complex social, cultural and historical processes that they are undergoing in the contemporary world. AKU-ISMC will seek to address fundamental challenges to the human condition today, including, amongst others, the issues of poverty and governance.

This seamless integration of the study of history and current concerns is an enterprise with philosophical and educational significance and one that may help individuals and societies find meaning and purpose in the traditions that surround them and in the many different worlds they inhabit.

For more information, please see:

The Institute of Ismaili Studies
The Institute of Ismaili Studies, which is affiliated with the AKDN, was established in 1977 with the object of promoting scholarship and learning of Muslim cultures and societies, historical as well as contemporary, and a better understanding of their relationship with other societies and faiths.

The Institute’s programmes encourage a perspective that is not confined to the theological and religious heritage of Islam, but seeks to explore the relationship of religious ideas to broader dimensions of society and culture. The programmes thus encourage an interdisciplinary approach to the materials of Islamic history and thought.

Within the Islamic tradition, the Institute’s programmes seek to promote research on those areas which have had relatively little attention devoted to them in scholarship to date. These include the intellectual and literary expressions of Shi‘ism in general, and Ismailism in particular.

In the context of Muslim societies, the Institute’s programmes are informed by the full range and diversity of cultures in which Islam is practised today. Particular attention is also given to issues of modernity that arise as Muslims seek to relate their heritage to contemporary circumstances. For more information, please see

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