The Prince of Wales last week opened the new Aga Khan Centre at a unique building in King’s Cross, at the heart of London’s thriving knowledge quarter. The inauguration took place in the presence of Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shiite Ismaili Muslim, who visited the United Kingdom as a guest of Her Majesty’s Government, according to a press release sent to Gulf News. Among the guests were the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights, Lord Tariq Ahmad, of Wimbledon.
The inauguration took place as the Aga Khan marks the diamond jubilee — 60 years of his role as Imam (spiritual leader) of the global Ismaili Muslim community. For six decades, the Aga Khan has helped transform the quality of life of millions around the world through initiatives in health, education, cultural revitalisation and economic empowerment.
Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross is a place for education, knowledge, cultural exchange and insight into Muslim civilizations. It is home to a number of organizations founded by the Aga Khan including The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations (AKU-ISMC), and the Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF UK). Together the organizations work to bridge the gap in understanding about Muslim cultures and to connect the public to global development issues and the work of the Aga Khan Foundation.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prince Charles commented on the importance of understanding the intellectual and cultural contributions that Islamic civilizations have made to the world.
The Aga Khan expressed his strong expectation that “from this new home, these education-oriented institutions would contribute powerfully to building new bridges of understanding across the gulfs of ignorance”. “One of the central challenges that faces our world today is the challenge of harmonizing many highly diversified voices within an increasingly globalized world,” the Aga Khan said. “I use the word ’harmonizing‘ carefully — for our ideal here is not a chorus that sings in unison, but one that blends many distinctive voices into an intelligent, resonant whole. But to do that requires a deep understanding of what makes each voice distinctive. And that is the essential function of the educational endeavours that will make this place their home.”