Countdown to Diamond Jubilee – Snapshots of Imamat – 1983 to 1987

“Although this University is new, it will draw inspiration from the greatest traditions of Islamic civilisation and learning….. The Charter which His Excellency the President has been gracious enough to grant the new Aga Khan University creates the first university inspired by my family since Al Azhar was founded in the Fatimid dynasty’s capital of Cairo in 970, a thousand years before we laid the foundation stone of the Aga Khan Medical College on this site in 1971. I can indeed hardly express the depth of my pleasure at receiving the Charter which dignifies that college with the status of a university….My prayer is that the university we are now building will enable many generations of the students to acquire both knowledge and the essential spiritual wisdom needed to balance that knowledge and enable their lives to attain the highest fulfilment.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Acceptance of Charter of Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
March 16, 1983

Aga Khan University
President General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq presenting the Charter of the Aga Khan University (AKU) to Mawlana Hazar Imam as then President of AKU Shamsh Kassim Lakha applauds. Photo: Hidayat, October 1985

The seal of Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles inherent in the founding of the University. The circular form of the seal with its different levels of imagery contained in concentric circles has its visual roots in the rosettes of early Islamic periods. The circle also symbolises the world and reflects the internationality of the University.

At the centre of the seal is the sun. Light is a universal symbol for the enlightenment that education provides. The light emanating from the star is also symbolic of Nur (Divine Light). The star incorporates 49 points to commemorate the University’s founding by Mawlana Hazar Imam, the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.

The outer ring contains an excerpt from the Qur’anic Ayat (3:103) rendered in classic Thuluth script:

And hold fast,
All together, by the rope
Which God (stretches out for you),
And be not divided among yourselves,
And remember with gratitude
God’s favour on you:
For ye were enemies
And He joined your hearts
In love, so that by His grace
Ye became brethren


1983 to 1987
Mawlana Hazar Imam

Mawlana Hazar Imam ordaining the Ismaili Constitution. Photo: Canadian Ismaili, March 1987
Mawlana Hazar Imam ordaining the Ismaili Constitution. Photo: Canadian Ismaili, March 1987
  • bestowed the title of Diwan on Count Sir Eboo Pirbhai (1983).
  • ordained the New Ismaili Constitution at Merimont in Geneva (1986).


  • the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in India (1983).
  • Aga Khan Foundation in Portugal (1983).
  • the Housing and Urbanisation Research Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (1987).

presided over

  • acceptance of AKU Charter ceremony (1983).
  • inauguration of Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan (1985).
  • convocation of the Aga Khan School of Nursing (1986 & 1989).
  • foundation ceremonies of
    • Serena Hotel, Faisalabad, Pakistan (1983).
    • Aga Khan Academy in Hunza, Pakistan (1983).
    • Sherqilla School, Pakistan, and Singal Medical School, Gilgit, Pakistan (1983).
    • Aga Khan Baug in Bombay, India (1983).
    • Serena Hotel, Quetta, Pakistan (1985).
    • Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Karimabad, Hunza, Pakistan (1986).
  • opening ceremonies of
  • presentation of
    • second awards of Aga Khan Award for Architecture in Istanbul, Turkey (1983). Speech
    • third awards of Aga Khan Awards for Architecture in Marrakesh, Morocco (1986). Speech
  • international seminars of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in Sana’a, Yemen; Cairo, Egypt; Grenada, Spain; Dakar, Senegal.


  • with Dr. Milton Obote of Uganda to discuss the Government’s new Expropriated Properties Bill which provided the legal framework for the return of properties expropriated in 1972 when the Asian were expelled from the country (1982). UPI
  • delegates of Oxfam, the Overseas Development Administrator, and the University of London in London (1983).


  • guests gathered to commemorate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee at a
    • luncheon organised by the Ismaili Council in Kenya (1982).
    • luncheon hosted by AKF and Aga Khan Social Welfare Institutions in Islamabad, Pakistan (1983). Speech
    • luncheon hosted by Industrial Promotion and Development Company, Dhaka, Bangladesh (1983). Speech
    • dinner hosted by Council for Malaysia and Singapore (1983).
    • dinner hosted by Aga Khan Foundation in New Delhi, India (1983). Speech
  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce in New Delhi, India (1983). Speech
  • international seminar sponsored by The Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) in Karachi, Pakistan, on Shelter for the Homeless (1983).
  • entrepreneurs in Zurich, Switzerland, to increase their activities in the developing countries (1983).
  • graduates of The Institute of Ismaili Studies and the University of London (1983). Speech
  • inaugural session of the Enabling Environment Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (1986). Speech
  • the International Development Conference in Washington, USA (1987). Speech
  • delegates at Globe & Mail dinner, Toronto, Canada (1987). Speech
  • tenth international seminar of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture at Granada, Spain (1987).

    Aga Khan IV
    Mawlana Hazar Imam presenting diplomas to the first group of graduates of the Teacher Training Programme jointly sponsored by The Institute of Ismaili Studies and the University of London Institute of Education, July 1983. Photo: The Prairie Newsletter, 1984

signed an agreement

  • with American Express International Banking Corporation, Lloyds International Ltd. and nine banks for financing for the development of Aga Khan University and Hospital (1983).
  • in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to expand  the Aga Khan Programme for Islamic Architecture at MIT and Harvard. The agreement supported a Master’s degree in Design for Islamic Cultures and also developed links with institutions in the Islamic world (1985).
  • in Aiglemont, between Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Deutsche Finanzierungsgesellschaft fur Beteiligungen in Entwicklungslandern GmbH (DEG) and the Compagnie Financiere de la Cote D’Ivoire (COFINCI) to increase equity capital of Industrial Promotion Services (Ivory Coast) at Aiglemont (1987).
  • with McMaster University, in Hamilton, Canada, for partnership in education. The Canadian International Development Agency pledged $4.4 million to the nurse-training programme to enable nurses from Pakistan to attend McMaster University to upgrade their skills (1987). CIDA-AKFC Partnership Projects

    Aga Khan IV
    At Aiglemont, a signing ceremony on October 18, 1983, between American Express International Banking Corporation, Lloyds International Ltd, and nine banks for financing for the development of Aga Khan University and Hospital. Photo: The Prairie Newsletter, 1984


Silver Jubilee Mulaqats:

  • Bangladesh – January, 1983
  • India and Singapore – January, 1983
  • Portugal – February, 1983
  • Pakistan, UAE – March, 1983
  • Canada – April, 1983
  • USA – May, 1983
  • UK and France – July 1983

For titles and honours bestowed upon Mawlana Hazar Imam, visit AKDN or view the matrix.

Selected World Events: 1983 to 1987

  • Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space (1984), returning to orbit in 1996 and 2000 on Endeavour, becoming the only Canadian to make three journeys to space. He used the shuttle’s Canadarm to install the first four solar panels on the International Space Station (2000).
  • Italy and the Vatican signed an agreement to end Roman Catholicism as state religion (1984).
  • Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated (1984).
  • Apple introduces the user-friendly Macintosh personal computer (1984).
  • Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced glasnost and perestroika a broad program of reform and liberalisation (1985).
  • British scientists reported the opening of an enormous hole in the  earth’s ozone layer over Antarctica (1984).
  • Compact disc (CD) was introduced (1982).
  • Cabbage Patch Kids doll became a frenzy (1983); developed in 1976 by Xavier Roberts, an art student, they began to be sold in 1981.
  • IBM introduced the high density floppy disk for the PC, which could store 1.2 megabytes of data (1984).
  • The first Internet domain was registered (1985).
  • The wreckage of the Titanic was discovered (1985).
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in USSR exploded causing the world’s worst nuclear disaster (1986).

Aga Khan University
Ontario Ismaili, July 1987
Canadian Ismaili, various issues
Hikmat, July 1977 and December 1986

Compiled by Nimira Dewji


Countdown to Diamond Jubilee Series

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