Hafiz and the Place of Iranian Culture in the World

Inaugural Lecture Before the Iran Society

Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan
November 9, 1936 London, United Kingdom

I must thank His Excellency the Iranian Minister, Lord Lamington and the members of the Society for having done me the honour of inviting me tonight to bring before you the importance to the whole world of those spiritual forces that the ancient land of Iran has cherished in her modern history. Before I go further I want to define clearly what I mean by "spiritual forces" – I do not use this term in any question-begging sense. I do not wish to limit it merely to religious or such ideas, or to give it any otherworldly interpretation, but I do mean anything that deals with man’s life of the spirit here and now on this earth and in this life. Whatever may or may not be the soul’s future, there is one impregnable central fact in existence: that here and now, in this world, we have a soul which has a life of its own in its appreciation of truth, beauty, harmony and good against evil. Has modern Iran greatly contributed to the perfectioning of the soul of man thus understood? Modern Iran I define as the ancient race of that high plateau, influenced by the faith of Islam and the imaginative poetry and declamation of Arabia, welded into one by a process of slow intermarriage and movement of many races from north, west, east and south. What has this Iran done for the satisfaction of man’s highest aspirations?