The Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) in the United Kingdom held its third convocation on 12 February 2011 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University College of London, where 18 graduates received their MA in Muslim Cultures.
The chief guest was Professor Richard Pring, Director of the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training and Former Director of the Department of Educational Studies at Oxford University. In his address Professor Pring alluded to the history of the Aga Khan University and its commitment to impacting the societies in which it works, linking this to AKU-ISMC’s own role and commitment to creating change.
“The concern for the sick and the ill-educated, the care and respect for the environment, the desire for practical and life enhancing knowledge are themselves rooted in a vision of humanity and society which is an inheritance. They are the product of the wisdom of the past – of what the philosopher Michael Oakeshott referred to as the conversation between the generations of mankind in which we come to appreciate the voice of philosophy, the voice of theology, the voice of science, the voice of poetry.”
Professor Pring recognised the imperative of guarding heritage and tasked the graduates with the role of inspiring others.
“We need continually to be inspired by the flourishing of scholarship out of which modern civilisation has developed. I would like to think that the graduates of this Institute become the new guardians of knowledge that will inspire others.”
Inspiring her classmates, Ms Nina Hirji Kheraj gave the valedictorian address. She began by recognising the value of diversity, as exemplified by the graduating class which included students from Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Tunisia and Tajikistan. She noted that 21 languages were spoken by her classmates and that amongst them were archaeologists, architects, psychologists, teachers and theologians.
While noting that the Institute was relatively young, she also recognised its uniqueness in emphasising the study of Muslim cultures as an integral part of world cultures and its enormous potential, “whose reputation is not yet set but whose potential to offer an alternative to the dominant understanding of Muslim history, culture and civilisations is unparalleled.”
The ceremony was attended by senior officials of AKU, faculty and staff, as well as invited guests from the academic, business and government communities in London.
Convocation Photo Gallery
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations