WELCOMING THE AGA KHAN TO TEXAS
HON. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
in the house of representatives
Monday, March 19, 2018
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a man who has dedicated his life in service to humanity. It is my pleasure to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan IV, the 49th hereditary Imam of the world’s 20 million Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, to my home state of Texas in celebration of his Diamond Jubilee.
The ethics of compassion and care, tolerance and equality, selflessness and service center His Highness’ deeply held belief in and practice of the Muslim faith. Particularly in recent years, the Aga Khan has pledged his voice to articulate the values of peace, generosity and brotherhood that unquestionably compose the core of Islam. He often says his obligations to his community and to humankind are inseparable. This has driven the Aga Khan to call on us to celebrate our differences of religion, culture, language and ethnicity as evidence of humanity’s great beauty. Our inherent diversity, he says, should propel humankind to embrace pluralism.
Ismaili Muslims have a deep connection to Texas, the DFW Metroplex and myself. For more than a decade, I have partnered with the Ismaili Muslim community to host the Youth Summit and Diversity Dialogue, which we held first in 2007 during the Aga Khan’s Golden Jubilee. It brings together students from my district with youth of all backgrounds to think critically about the challenges we can address through global citizenship. The program brings to light the positive impact young Ismaili Muslims make on the world around them.
Alongside his role as Imam, the Aga Khan has established many global humanitarian organizations, one of which is the Aga Khan Development Network. The AKDN promotes human dignity and self-sustaining growth by administering education and healthcare in many of the most impoverished and isolated parts of the developing world. Three of the most distinguished AKDN projects are the Aga Khan Academies, which offer world-class educations to children in remote, school-deprived regions. When I visited the Aga Khan Academy in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015, I was emotionally struck by the undeniable love of humankind evident in the AKDN’s work to help those children reach their full potential. It became clear to me that the driving force behind each of the Aga Khan’s endeavors is his desire to foster progress and peace through hope. For hope, he says, is the most powerful source of human motivation.
It is this spirit, born of the example of the Aga Khan, which led 2,500 Ismaili Muslim volunteers to help their neighbors in Houston recover from the devastation triggered by Hurricane Harvey last August. For this selfless generosity, they were presented one of the five Points of Light awards by the flve living former presidents. The Ismaili Muslim community’s response to the unsounded call of duty exemplifies their unrelenting effort to serve humanity at large.
Mr. Speaker, His Highness the Aga Khan–through his work, rooted in the Muslim faith–is a testament to Islam being a religion of both the intellect and humility, of both tradition and progress. The celebration of the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee is a monumental occasion for Ismaili Muslims across the world. I wish to congratulate the American Ismaili
Muslim community and convey to His Highness the Aga Khan that he and the values of tolerance, diversity and pluralism that Ismaili Muslims uphold will always be welcome in the United States of America.
[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 47 (Monday, March 19, 2018)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]