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United States of America visit diary
TheIsmaili.org
11 April 2008
  • Friday, 11 April 2008

    Mawlana Hazar Imam and Princess Zahra walk under a sabre arch salute presented by the Sol Ross volunteers of Texas, as they disembark in Austin, USA. Photo: Gary Otte
    Mawlana Hazar Imam and Princess Zahra walk under a sabre arch salute presented by the Sol Ross volunteers of Texas, as they disembark in Austin, USA. Gary Otte

    This afternoon, Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived in Austin as a guest of the Governor of Texas, for the first leg of his Golden Jubilee visit to the United States of America. Mawlana Hazar Imam, who was also accompanied by Princess Zahra, was received by Mayor Will Wynn of Austin, Deputy Secretary of State for Texas Coby Shorter III, other Texas dignitaries, and leaders of the USA Jamat.

    Mayor Wynn welcomed Mawlana Hazar Imam, presenting him with the Key to the City of Austin. As part of the colourful arrival ceremony, witnessed by hundreds of leaders of the Jamat from across the United States, the University of Texas Trumpet Octet performed the US National Anthem and the Nashid al-Imamah.

    • Also see the video of Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival in Austin.

    Saturday, 12 April 2008

    Governor Rick Perry of Texas addressing the media prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Texas and the Aga Khan University as Mawlana Hazar Imam looks on. Photo: Zahur Ramji
    Governor Rick Perry of Texas addressing the media prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Texas and the Aga Khan University, as Mawlana Hazar Imam looks on. Zahur Ramji

    Mawlana Hazar Imam and Princess Zahra began their day with a visit to the State Capitol and a meeting with Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

    Following their meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the University of Texas and the Aga Khan University that further aims to strengthen collaborations between the two institutions. The MOU was signed by President William Powers Jr. of the University of Texas and President Firoz Rasul of the Aga Khan University in the presence of the Governor of Texas and Mawlana Hazar Imam.

    In his address prior to the signing, Governor Perry congratulated Mawlana Hazar Imam on his Golden Jubilee and complimented the Ismaili community in Texas. “Texas has a vibrant Ismaili Muslim community that contributes greatly to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the state” said the Governor. “Their acts of charity and good citizenship are a real tribute to His Highness' progressive vision for the world.”

    In his response, Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked the Governor for the support that the State of Texas has extended to the Jamat. “I would like to thank the State of Texas for the very warm welcome they have given to members of my community who have established themselves in the United States.”

    The signing ceremony was followed by a lunch hosted by the University of Texas.

    “Rare is the religious leader whose vision is so extraordinary that his appeal transcends nationality, ethnicity, and faith traditions. His Highness the Aga Khan is one such extraordinary leader.”

    In the evening, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Princess Zahra attended a Texas Gala hosted by the Governor and First Lady of Texas in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee. Guests from across Texas were invited to the spectacular event which was opened with the singing of the US National Anthem by Shanil Wazirali.

    In his address, Governor Perry honoured Mawlana Hazar Imam. “Rare is the religious leader whose vision is so extraordinary that his appeal transcends nationality, ethnicity, and faith traditions. His Highness the Aga Khan is one such extraordinary leader.”

    Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked Governor Perry for the true Texan hospitality. “The American ethic and ideal – the Texan ethic and ideal – has always been one of openness to others and openness to the future. It is an ethic of opportunity, which the Ismaili community deeply shares.”

    In his address Mawlana Hazar Imam also announced the establishment of a new Ismaili Centre to be located in Houston, Texas. “Most recently, the Governor's encouragement has been instrumental in our decision to build the community's first high-profile Ismaili Centre in the United States – and to situate it in Houston… We are confident that the new Ismaili Centre in Houston, like the Centre in Dubai, will not only enhance the physical fabric of the city, but will also serve as a tangible symbol of the values we share with our good neighbours here in Texas.”

    • Also see the full text of Mawlana Hazar Imam's speech on the AKDN website.

    Governor Perry then presented Mawlana Hazar Imam with a gift on behalf of the State of Texas. Afterwards, guests were treated to a colourful fireworks display which lit up the Austin skyline.

    Sunday, 13 April 2008

    Upon arriving in Los Angeles, California, Mawlana Hazar Imam is greeted by Charlotte Schultz, Chief of Protocol and Will Fox, Deputy Chief of Staff from the office of the Governor of California, as well as President Samia Rashid and other leaders of the Ismaili Council for Western USA. Photo: Gary Otte
    Upon arriving in Los Angeles, California, Mawlana Hazar Imam is greeted by Charlotte Schultz, Chief of Protocol and Will Fox, Deputy Chief of Staff from the office of the Governor of California, as well as President Samia Rashid and other leaders of the Ismaili Council for Western USA. Gary Otte

    This morning, the Jamat from across Texas together with members of the international Jamat gathered at the San Antonio Convention Centre for the highly-anticipated Golden Jubilee Darbar. It was an occasion of great joy for the entire Jamat and for Mawlana Hazar Imam as Princess Zahra was also present at the Darbar.

    In the afternoon, Mawlana Hazar Imam departed from San Antonio airport in Texas. He was bid farewell by leaders of the Jamat at San Antonio airport.

    California is the second state in Mawlana Hazar Imam's USA visit. Arriving at Van Nuys airport near Los Angeles, Mawlana Hazar Imam was received by Will Fox, Deputy Chief of Staff and Charlotte Schultz, Chief of Protocol from the office of the Governor of California as well as leaders of the Jamat.

    Monday, 14 April 2008

    Mawlana Hazar Imam and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Governor`s private office in Santa Monica, California. Photo: Gary Otte
    Mawlana Hazar Imam and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Governor`s private office in Santa Monica, California. Gary Otte

    This morning, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California at the Governor's private office in Santa Monica. This was followed by an intimate lunch hosted by the Governor and First Lady Maria Shriver at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

    The lunch began with the Nashid al-Imamah which was followed by a performance of the US National Anthem by renowned Los Angeles singer Angel Blue. Following the meal, guests were entertained by the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, representing the best of the Los Angeles Opera.

    During the luncheon Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Aga Khan Development Network and Mawlana Hazar Imam's efforts to alleviate poverty, and promote architecture and culture. In his remarks, Hazar Imam thanked the Governor for his hospitality and stressed the need for the strengthening of human resources, which contribute towards the building of a civil society that supports fragile democracies.

    In the evening, Mawlana Hazar Imam was the guest of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for a dinner at Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles.

    Tuesday, 15 April 2008

    Upon arriving in Chicago, Mawlana Hazar Imam is met by Ms Sheila Nix, Deputy Governor of Illinois and Mr Jack Lavin, Director of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Photo: Gary Otte
    Upon arriving in Chicago, Mawlana Hazar Imam is met by Ms Sheila Nix, Deputy Governor of Illinois and Mr Jack Lavin, Director of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Gary Otte

    The Jamats of Western United States, New Zealand and Australia, together with members of the international Jamat, gathered at the Los Angeles Convention Centre for the second Golden Jubilee Darbar in the USA.

    Following the Darbar, leaders of the Jamat bid farewell to Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Van Nuys airport, as he departed California for the third leg of his USA visit in Illinois.

    Upon his arrival at Midway Airport in Chicago, Mawlana Hazar Imam was received by Ms Sheila Nix, Deputy Governor of Illinois, Mr Jack Lavin, Director of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Ms Eva Sieradzki, Director of International Relations and Protocol from the office of the Governor of Illinois, as well as leaders of the Jamats of Midwestern and Northestern USA.

    Wednesday, 16 April 2008

    Mawlana Hazar Imam with Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago at a luncheon hosted by the Governor in honour of Hazar Imam`s Golden Jubilee. Photo: Gary Otte
    Mawlana Hazar Imam with Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago at a luncheon hosted by the Governor in honour of Hazar Imam`s Golden Jubilee. Gary Otte

    Today, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, at the Aon Centre. The Governor then hosted a lunch at the Mid-America Club in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam. The lunch began with the playing of the US National Anthem and the Nashid al-Imamah.

    Speaking at the event, the Governor paid tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam's leadership and vision. “It is a great privilege to welcome to Illinois His Highness, The Aga Khan, whose humanitarian and philanthropic efforts have helped millions of disadvantaged men, women and children in developing areas to maintain their dignity and have a better quality of life,” said the Governor.

    Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked the Governor for his hospitality and for laying the foundation of the Glenview Jamatkhana in Autumn 2007. He also described the purpose of his trip to the United States: “I am here to learn. I am also here to seek partnerships. The global knowledge society is led by the United States. And therefore we are looking for partnerships. Partnerships which are long, which are stable and which produce quantifiable results. We will work with anybody who wants to help us in social development, economic development, pluralism and more important than anything else, building civil society.”

    Later in the day, Mawlana Hazar Imam granted a Golden Jubilee Darbar to members of the Midwestern and North Eastern USA Jamats and to those who had come from abroad.

    Thursday, 17 April 2008

    A Guard of Honour welcomes Mawlana Hazar Imam to the State of Georgia. Photo: Zahur Ramji
    A Guard of Honour welcomes Mawlana Hazar Imam to the State of Georgia. Zahur Ramji

    Leaders of the Jamat gathered at Midway Airport in Chicago to bid farewell to Mawlana Hazar Imam as he departed Illinois for Georgia, the fourth and final stop of his USA visit.

    Arriving at Atlanta's Fulton County airport, Mawlana Hazar Imam was welcomed to Georgia by Chris Young, Chief of Protocol for the State of Georgia, State Representative Melvin Everson, and leaders of the Jamat.

    Later in the day, the Jamats of Florida and Southeastern USA, together with others from across the world, gathered at the Georgia International Convention Centre in Atlanta for the final Golden Jubilee Darbar in the USA.

    Friday, 18 April 2008

    Mawlana Hazar Imam in conversation with an Ismaili involved in the field of Education at the reception following the IBO meeting. Salim Bhatia, Director of the Aga Khan Academies Programme looks on. Photo: Gary Otte
    Mawlana Hazar Imam in conversation with an Ismaili involved in the field of Education at the reception following the IBO meeting. Salim Bhatia, Director of the Aga Khan Academies Programme looks on. Gary Otte

    This morning, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with Governor Sonny Perdue and First Lady Mary Perdue of Georgia at the Governor's Mansion. During a lunch hosted in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam, Governor Perdue paid tribute to the Imam's work and vision. “The Aga Khan is not only a spiritual leader to millions but also a champion for causes benefiting the developing countries of the world,” said the Governor. “His devotion to lifting up others through faith and service is an example to us all.”

    Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked the Governor for his warm welcome to Georgia and expressed his appreciation for the United States' relief efforts in Central Asia. “Islam is a faith of generosity; it is not always seen as a faith of generosity. You have an ethic of generosity in the United States. Generosity is also an ethic of our faith. Our faith reminds us constantly to care for the poor, the weak and the marginalized in society” he explained.

    • Also see photographs at the official website of the Governor of Georgia.

    In the afternoon, Mawlana Hazar Imam delivered the annual Peterson Lecture to the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) at their annual meeting. During the opening proceedings, Dr Monique Seefried, Chairman of the IB Board of Governors, requested Karim Thomas, a graduate of the IB Programme to address the gathering on his experiences. The event also coincided with the 40th anniversary of the IBO.

    In his speech, Mawlana Hazar Imam commented on the importance of pluralism. “Experience tells us that people are not born with the innate ability nor the wish to see the other as an equal individual in society,” he said. “Pluralism is a value that must be taught,” he added.

    He also spoke about the challenges facing educationalists. "I believe that the coexistence of these two surging impulses – what one might call a new globalism on one hand and a new tribalism on the other – will be a central challenge for educational leaders in the years ahead.,” he said. “And this will be particularly true in the developing world with its kaleidoscope of different identities," he added.

    • Also see the press release, the video and the full text of Mawlana Hazar Imam's speech, as well as the speech by Dr Monique Seefried, Chairman of the IB Board of Governors on the AKDN website. In addition, see the text of the speech made by Mr Karim Thomas, IB Programme graduate.

    Following the lecture, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with the Board of Governors of the IBO as well as educators and teachers invited to the event.

    “This country is the leader in the knowledge society. I think that there probably isn't an area of human endeavour, in which we do not have today a murid who is exceptional in his own or her own field.”

    In the evening, Mawlana Hazar Imam was the guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the Jamati Institutions of the USA. During the dinner, guests were treated to performances of music and dance reflecting the multiple traditions within the Jamat. Hazar Imam was particularly touched by the entertainment and paid tribute to the performers who were selected from across the United States.

    In his address to the gathering, President Eboo, thanked Mawlana Hazar Imam on behalf of the Jamat, for having undertaken this extensive visit to the USA. He also presented a gift to Hazar Imam on behalf of the assembled leadership.

    In his address to the leadership, Mawlana Hazar Imam commented that this had been a very happy visit and expressed his admiration to the USA Jamat for the progress they have made. “This country is the leader in the knowledge society. I think that there probably isn't an area of human endeavour, in which we do not have today a murid who is exceptional in his own or her own field.”

    Upon Mawlana Hazar Imam's departure, he posed for a photograph with the talented youth who had performed earlier in the evening. After his departure, the excitement and happiness was evident as the leadership and the youth broke into singing and dancing.

    Saturday, 19 April 2008

    Mawlana Hazar Imam speaks to leaders of the Jamat from across the United States, who had gathered at Atlanta`s Fulton County Airport to bid him farewell. Photo: Zahur Ramji
    Mawlana Hazar Imam speaks to leaders of the Jamat from across the United States, who had gathered at Atlanta`s Fulton County Airport to bid him farewell. Zahur Ramji

    Having visited the states of Texas, California, Illinois and Georgia, Mawlana Hazar Imam departed the United States today, concluding his Golden Jubilee visit to the country. Leaders of the USA Jamat gathered at the airport to bid Hazar Imam an emotional farewell.


    Additional photographs are available in the Texas, California, Illinois, and Georgia galleries. Also see the video of Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival in Austin.