Islam, business, Aga Khan

I am a Nizari Ismaili, and hold that the Aga Khan is the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through his daughter Fatima (PBUH) and his cousin/son-in-law Ali (PBUH).

The New York Times ran a decent story yesterday on the Aga Khan and his humanitarian efforts. I don’t call it philanthropy, because according to the Imam:

I am fascinated and somewhat frustrated when representatives of the western world — especially the western media — try to describe the work of our Aga Khan Development Network in fields like education, health, the economy, media, and the building of social infrastructure.

Reflecting a certain historical tendency of the West to separate the secular from the religious, they often describe it either as philanthropy or entrepreneurship. What is not understood is that this work is for us a part of our institutional responsibility — it flows from the mandate of the office of Imam to improve the quality of worldly life for the concerned communities.

It’s also nice to see another understanding of Islam being forward, instead of the usual violent imagery.

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