The Aga Khan will on Tuesday mark his Diamond Jubilee — or 60 years as the 49th hereditary Imam, spiritual leader of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslims.
The celebrations, to be held worldwide, will bring together the global Ismaili community, partners of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) as well as government and faith community leaders.
In Islam’s ethical tradition, religious leaders not only interpret the faith but also have a responsibility to help to improve the quality of lives of their community and the societies they live in.
For the Aga Khan, this has meant dedicating his life to addressing the concerns of the developing world.
“Over the past six decades, the Aga Khan has transformed the quality of life for millions of people around the world,” reads a statement from the Aga Khan Development Network. “They include 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 keeping with tradition, the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will include the launch of social, cultural and economic development projects.
These will further help to alleviate poverty, increase access to finance for education, health and housing, early childhood development and infrastructure — principally, water, energy and telecommunications — in developing countries.
Resources and capacity will further be added to the institutions of the AKDN, including the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.
“The Aga Khan believes diversity should inspire, not divide, and that enhancing pluralism is a crucial building block for constructing peaceful and successful societies,” added the statement.
The AKDN spends $925 million annually on non-profit social and cultural development activities — a threefold increase over the past 10 years.
It operates more than 200 healthcare institutions, two universities spanning six countries and 200 schools and school improvement programmes in some of the most remote and poorest parts of the world.
AKDN also operates more than 90 project companies in post-conflict and transitional economies, helping to lay the foundations of economic development in these countries.