Aga Khan wants Canada’s help in building peace

The spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims spoke to MPs and senators


OTTAWA – The spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims has told the Parliament he wants Canada to join him in making the world a more tolerant, peaceful place.

“Canada is a leader in the community of nations,” the 77-year-old Aga Khan told a joint meeting of MPs and senators.

He was welcomed with repeated standing ovations in the packed House of Commons. The audience in the galleries included many Ismaili Muslim representatives invited for the occasion.

The Harvard-educated religious leader spoke elegantly in both official languages, mixing humour and history as he offered a solemn plea for peace in a badly divided world.

He opened by paying tribute to Canada’s recent gold-medal Olympic hockey victories and joked that, as an honorary Canadian citizen, he would have liked to have played for the team.

“The Dalai Lama and I would have been a formidable defence.”

The Aga Khan, hereditary holder of his religious office, is a regular visitor to Canada, with his most recent trips coming in 2008 and 2010.

He was granted honorary Canadian citizenship during the 2010 visit.

He said his foundation would help Canada celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2017.

The Aga Khan made a plea for greater understanding of the world’s Muslims saying how they are viewed in the world is shaped by “the lens of war.”

He lamented the growing divisions among Shia and Sunni Muslims around the world especially in war zones such as a Iraq and elsewhere, saying those differences are not based not on any profound differences in religious faith.

“It is becoming a disaster,” he said.

He also said the world needs to pay more attention to the role of civil society, saying it represents “voices for change where change is overdue … voices of hope for people living in fear.”

Religious intolerance and hostility seems to be on the rise around the world and can be countered by vigorous civil society, he argued.

He also commended Harper for establishing an Office of Religious Freedom, saying it could be a model for other countries.

He closed by quoting a verse from the Qur’an saying the human race was born from a “single soul” — again inspiring another sustained standing ovation.

His speech followed a private meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper following his morning arrival on Parliament Hill.

Harper introduced him as a tireless humanitarian, lauding him for development partnerships in Africa, Asia and in Afghanistan.

“When you are in Canada, you are home,” Harper said.

Harper, who sat in rapt attention throughout the speech, lauded the Aga Khan saying his advocacy for tolerance and pluralism has gone “beyond words.”

Harper also thanked the Aga Khan for his support to his child and maternal health initiative that he launched in 2010.

“Canadians are strongest when we have the support of those who share our values,” Harper said.

“Your highness I value your counsel and your friendship.”

The Aga Khan became the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims in 1957, when he succeeded his grandfather.

He oversees a number of foundations which run development projects around the world.

There are about 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims in Canada.

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Aga Khan wants Canada’s help in building peace

  1. I have to be honest, im not really into the Aga Khan thing, Que Sera Sera , but I do have to say that this man and his supporters are being used as puppets by this Harper government, again, for a photo opp the help raise the sagging numbers of this corrupt and unethical government. This is a shame, and I hope supporters of the Aga Kahn can see through this. Its time for the opposition to smarten up and keep going after this harper crew for their corruption and bad ethics, the economy just aint going to cut it anymore.

  2. A thank you to the Aga Khan for reminding us of what we used to be…. and will be again once the Cons are gone..

  3. The Aga Khan met with ismali refugees in Vancouver in the 60s. He told them to embrace and follow the values and freedoms of Canada. To get educated and contribute to Canadian society. They have done so. Much different than leaders of other muslims.

  4. Harper could learn much from the Aga Khan … unfortunately he probably won’t since that would mean admitting someone was smarter than he is.

  5. Canada first needs to rebuild its own peace. Ousting the divisive PMSH and his hate-machine politics would be a wonderful start.

  6. Agha Khan is a great man , he told his followers to integrate into the Canadian society to avoid racism as best as they can , part of that integration was allowing their followers to eat pig with pride, only Muslim group to take that remarkable initiative , flattering the powerful and rich is pragmatic and kind of commonsense but it takes a new meaning when endorsed by the Imam . If the Imam was asking the westerners to adapt to the values of native Americans he would not be addressing the parliament, instead he would be stopped at the airport insulted and humiliated , trying to explain the purpose for his visit.
    If you want to identify Ismaili muslims in Canada it is easy ,they are the ones who proactively inform the white superiors that we are not the regular kind of browns, do not mistake us for Hindus , sikhs or ordinary Shia or Sunni Muslims , we are the special kind of browns whose Imam allowed us to flatter and integrate into western cultures, they will tell the westerners that hatred and racism against ordinary browns may be justified but we are one exception. Although they strictly practice endogamy but their Imam (or God) is exempt from this rule, Agha Khan must find the smartest , sexiest and the hottest bride from any race religion or creed while his followers make him rich by their donations .
    I respect Agha Khan more than I respect Dalai Lama because at least Agha Khan does not have any political agenda and he does a lot of good work around the world and spreads the message of love and harmony, It is Ironic that someone with high level of education from Harvard would insist his followers to glorify him into a godlike entity and a cult of personality, and get the Canadian govt to do the same but so many crazy things happen in this world where Dalai Lama is kissed by all western leaders for being a trouble maker for China.

  7. This dude is a FRAUDE! He preaches like he’s a G_d yet he’s a billionaire, owns millions of dollars worth of horses, has been married 3 plus times and he’s at WAR with the WESTS IDEOLOGY. He’s a Mutlem who’s followers thinks that he is equal to Jesus Christ. Muslems are brutally murdering one another, Shia vrs Sunni, they do NOT hold CANADIAN VALUES only to rein supreme. How naïve we are, just do a search on the dude, educate yourself! Yes our PM has to go b4 he gives up all of our resources and VALUES