Aga Khan Centre inaugurated in King’s Cross, London | Aga Khan Academies

Aga Khan Centre inaugurated in King’s Cross, London

26 June 2018

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and His Highness the Aga Khan unveil a plaque to officially inaugurate the Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross, London © AKDN/Shyrose BhanjiToday marks the official inauguration of a unique building in King’s Cross, at the heart of London’s thriving Knowledge Quarter. Aga Khan Centre (AKC) was opened by The Prince of Wales in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan. Among the guests were the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon.

The inauguration took place as part of His Highness’ visit to the UK as a guest of Her Majesty’s Government. This year marks His Highness’ Diamond Jubilee - 60 years of his role as Imam (spiritual leader) of the global Shia Ismaili Muslim community. For six decades, His Highness the Aga Khan has helped transform the quality of life of millions around the world through initiatives in health, education, cultural revitalisation and economic empowerment. 

Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross is a place for education, knowledge, cultural exchange and insight into Muslim civilisations. It is home to a number of organisations founded by His Highness, including The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), and the Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF UK). Together the organisations work to bridge the gap in understanding about Muslim cultures and to connect the public to global development issues and the work of the Aga Khan Foundation.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, The Prince of Wales commented on the importance of understanding the intellectual and cultural contributions that Islamic civilisations have made to the world.

His Highness the Aga Khan expressed his strong expectation that “from this new home, these education-oriented institutions would contribute powerfully to building new bridges of understanding across the gulfs of ignorance.”

“One of the central challenges that faces our world today is the challenge of harmonizing many highly diversified voices within an increasingly globalized world,” His Highness the Aga Khan noted. “I use the word ’harmonizing‘ carefully - for our ideal here is not a chorus that sings in unison, but one that blends many distinctive voices into an intelligent, resonant whole. But to do that requires a deep understanding of what makes each voice distinctive. And that is the essential function of the educational endeavors that will make this place their home.”

His Royal Highness Prince Charles and His Highness the Aga Khan discuss the features of the Garden of Life on the ninth floor of the newly inaugurated Aga Khan Centre with garden designer Madison Cox © AKDN/Nayyir DamaniHis Highness was accompanied at the inauguration by members of his family including his brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan, his daughter Princess Zahra, his son Prince Rahim with his wife Princess Salwa, and sons Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad.

London has been a home for the educational and international development institutions now housed at AKC for forty years, due in large part to the city’s role as an international centre that has a pluralistic outlook and respects the free exchange of ideas. The thriving King’s Cross neighbourhood is a natural fit for these organisations. The IIS and AKU-ISMC work alongside leading UK universities and are active members of London’s Knowledge Quarter. Through their Higher Education programmes, research and publications, they seek to promote scholarship on Muslim cultures and societies, historical as well as contemporary.

AKC also houses the Aga Khan Library, London, which brings together the collections of the IIS and AKU-ISMC. Located over two floors, the library provides space for publications, areas for study and secure archival storage for rare books and manuscripts. The library collections include academic materials for teaching, research, comparative study and publications about Muslim civilisations, including a unique collection with a focus on Shia Islam and its Ismaili traditions.

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