Pluralism denotes a positive and encouraging attitude towards diversity, be it in the religio-cultural, political or social realm. In recent years, the concept has gained increasing theoretical and practical importance.
The Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) is committed to the study of pluralism and as one of its key research areas held a seminar series entitled The Possibility of Pluralism from 2003 to 2007.
The series has involved eminent scholars from around the world, discussing subjects such as secularism, multiculturalism, democracy, globalisation and the role of civil society.
In 2009, as part of its publications programme with Edinburgh University Press, AKU-ISMC will produce a volume The Challenge of Pluralism: Paradigms from Muslim Contexts edited by Dr Abdou Filali-Ansari and Sikeena Karmali Ahmed.
In the volume, over sixteen eminent scholars from around the world, explore notions of pluralism, discussing the broad spectrum of its relevance and application to modern day societies, from secularism and multiculturalism to democracy, globalisation and the pivotal role of civil society.
Pluralism and the AKDN
As a proponent of pluralism, the Aga Khan Development Network signed an agreement with the Canadian Government in 2006 to create a Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. At that time, the Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, His Highness the Aga Khan, noted that:
"Tolerance, openness and understanding towards other peoples' cultures, social structures, values and faiths are now essential to the very survival of an interdependent world … Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development, it is vital to our existence."