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His Highness Karim Aga Khan IV—1994 MIT Commencement Address

His Highness Karim Aga Khan IV, Spiritual Leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, delivers an address at the 1994 MIT Commencement on the topic of the changing world and "creative encounters."

His Highness Karim Aga Khan IV, Spiritual Leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, delivers an address at the 1994 MIT Commencement on the topic of the changing world and "creative encounters."

The 128th MIT Commencement Address is delivered by His Highness Karim Aga Khan IV, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. As the first Muslim speaker to address the MIT community, the Aga Khan offers a powerful and nuanced appeal to improve understanding between the West and the Islamic worlds. He regrets how the Islamic world is “almost terra incognita” in the West, and describes how misconceptions about the Muslim world could be compared to a mistaken belief that most Americans are Branch Davidians. Using the example of Tajikistan and its existential challenges as it emerges from Soviet rule, he recommends that each culture draw on its own strengths; that it be consistent with its goals; that it seek sustainable improvement; and that it maintain humane methods of transition. And he underscores the importance of engaging to solve problems of the world with an understanding of the world’s subtleties and complexities and the wisdom of different cultures. The Aga Khan ends with a quotation from former MIT president James R. Killian on the need for ‘bifocal vision’ that combines science and the liberal arts.

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