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Closing Remarks, First Seminar, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Aiglemont) 1978-04-01

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Event - 1978-04-01
Saturday, 1978, April 1
hikmat Vol. 1 No.11 May 15, 1981
Hazar Imam presiding over the first seminar held in Aiglemont
Aga Khan IV (H.H. Prince Karim)

Partings are sad, and all the more so when they separate people with a common bond and a united interest. In this particular case, however, I think we can say a revoir, or “till we meet again,” rather than goodbye. I say this because I believe our commitment to the problem of architecture for Muslims is such that our path must cross again.

This seminar has been a source of great happiness to me personally in that it has confirmed that we all believe a better more appropriate and more sympathetic environment can be created for those hundreds of millions of men and women throughout the world who believe in Islam. It has confirmed the desire t invigorate a Muslim will for an Islamic environment.

I said in my opening remarks on Thursday that it was not our intention to create a school of architecture or thought. I think this has been amply demonstrated by the free and open nature of the discussions we have had in the last three days. You were not making speeches to each other. You were discussing issues. Neither the Steering Committee nor any of the participant has claimed to know the total answer There is no political party line. Some of you may even leave here with less certainty about future developments than when you came. Even so, a major achievement has occurred. A dialogue has bee established among you all, a dialogue which transcends national boundaries an through which runs a common thread That is, you show a will to tackle the problem, to respond to a challenge or opportunity. I hope you will now consider yourselves as a permanent resource. If so I would ask you to continue this dialogue when you leave here both among yourselves and your colleagues in your own country.

I have been pleased to observe that the mood of the seminar has been so enlightened. I do realise there are many other elsewhere who are not yet prepared to face up to the problem we have identified. They either see it as too big for them, or they do not see it at all. Please tell them about this seminar and your own personal assessment of it. Start a dialogue with them, too, so that they can know what has been discussed. It is equally important that we can understand their problems also. Then, come back to us, and let us know your thinking so that our Steering Committee can be guided by the experiences of all of those who are discussing an tackling the issues.

It was extremely important, indeed fundamental, for the members of the Steering Committee to benefit from the thoughts the experiences and the wisdom of men and women such as yourselves. The dialogue should prove invaluable in identifying the major issues, the essential problems which Muslims around the world are facing in creating a suitable new environment for themselves. From this, we can determine the types of activity which the Aga Khan Award should encourage and recognise.

I am under no illusions that the problem will be solved when the first award is made in 1980. Far from it. I think that only then shall we begin to understand its full magnitude. It is a continuous problem, and this requires all of us to make a continuous commitment to address it.

Any man or woman who professes the Shahada is a Muslim. We are numerous. We live in so many parts of the world. We speak such different languages. We are of such different racial and cultural origin. All this profoundly convinces me that there is no such thing as one type of Muslim environment or one type of Muslim building. Each part of the Islamic world must create its own solution. We are enjoined to help the needy, the sick, the poor of whatever colour or origin. I think therefore, we must assist in the challenging, but fundamentally important task of demanding from our architects, national decision makers, our planners and our landscape architects and environment in which we can live, work and practise the precepts of our faith harmoniously and to the fullest.

His Highness the Aga Khan IV

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