News story

IIS Honours Class of 2007 Graduates

11th September 2007

Class of 2007
Prince Hussain Aga Khan and Princess Khaliya Aga Khan meet with guests
Prince Rahim Aga Khan meets guests at the graduation reception
Dr Shafik Sachedina opened the proceedings
Dr Alnoor Dhanani addressed the congregation
Prince Rahim Aga Khan made the commencement address
Prince Rahim Aga Khan presented the graduates with certificates
Prince Rahim Aga Khan congratulates the graduates
Salman Alibhai made the valedictory address
Selina Kassam Ramji gave the alumni address at the ceremony
Amaan Pardhan gave the Vote of Thanks at the ceremony
Professor Azim Nanji concluded the ceremony
The Institute attracts Ismaili students from around the globe, and this year’s graduating class included students from Canada, Iran, Tajikistan, Pakistan and India. As early as the 1980’s, the Institute had initiated programmes in collaboration with universities in Canada and the United Kingdom in which students obtained Master's degrees in Education and Islamic Studies. Since 1994, the Institute has offered a Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) in which students from various academic backgrounds come to the IIS in London for a two-year course of study and then continue on to obtain Master's degrees in a field of relevance to the Institute’s mandate.

Dr Shafik Sachedina, IIS Governor and Head of the Department of Jamati Institutions at Aiglemont, opened the formal ceremony proceedings. He spoke of how education is a key concern of His Highness the Aga Khan and how “the IIS is playing a critical role in the development of intellectual resources as part of the network of Imamatinfo-icon institutions engaged in higher education.” He was followed by Dr Alnoor Dhanani, Head of the Department of Graduate Studies at the IIS, who gave the welcome address.

Dr Dhanani reflected on how 2007 was a special year, in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khaninfo-icon’s accession to the Imamat, the tenth anniversary of the graduation of the first class of GPISH students, and the beginning of the first cycle of the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) at the IIS. He commented that it is “the vision of the humanities to instill values and see them realised in individuals and societies”, and he hoped that the graduating students were ready to “engage in the enterprise of building a better world”.

In his commencement address, Prince Rahim Aga Khan spoke of how, through their studies, the graduates exemplified a commitment to seek to analyse and solve some of the problems of the developing world: “Education, international studies and diplomacy, non-profit leadership, media, development, law, and regional studies will all be among the most relevant fields of expertise in the decades ahead.” He said that he hoped the graduates will “have come to see that understanding past Muslim achievements, traditions, values, and ethics should also have equipped you exceptionally well to address the great emerging issues of our own times.”

Prince Rahim stressed the importance of understanding diversity and nurturing pluralism, “as essential to the very survival of humanity”. He asked the graduates to “include this message in your own ways in the years ahead, through your work and your words, by your attitudes, by your actions, and by example.” He encouraged the graduates to remember that “intellectual pursuits should, wherever possible, seek to address the universal aspirations of humankind, both spiritual and concrete. Those aspirations, for our generation more than for any before, are intertwined in a single global community.”

After the presentation of certificates, Class of 2007 valedictorian, Salman Alibhai from Canada, reflected on how he and his fellow graduates found their faith and understanding of Islam challenged by the thinkers, texts and ideas encountered during the programme. His valedictory address focused on how the IIS had equipped the students with “an approach to the understanding of Islam that is at once intellectual and spiritual”, whereby the development of faith and intellect is symbiotic rather than contradictory.

Concluding the formal ceremonies, Professor Azim Nanji, Director of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, referred to one of the earliest extant Ismaili Shi‘i texts, Kitab al-‘Alim wa’-l-Ghulam, which is about teaching and learning. Professor Nanji reflected that this work is a lesson to all for the need to pass knowledge on to succeeding generations.

After the graduation ceremony, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Khaliya met with IIS alumni of the various Institute programmes for an informal reception. Nearly 100 alumni, from across the world, were in London over the weekend for their second triennial reunion.

For more information about GPISH and other graduate programmes, see the IIS website.


All images © IIS/Arnhel de Serra