Rick Perry Aga Khan: Rick Perry and a Muslim Connection? Who and What are Ismaili Muslims?

Blogger TexasFred posted an introduction Texas Governor Rick Perry gave for Karim Aga Khan when he visited the state in 2008. The introduction is glowing and now that we know, what we know, about Islam today, it is startling on the first read…maybe on the second read as well. I hadn’t a clue who Karim Aga Khan was, but after some research, I do have some idea.

Karim Aga Khan IV

Karim Aga Khan IV is the “49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. I believe Ismaili Muslims are tied to Abraham’s oldest son, Ishmael (Shia’s consider Abraham to be the first Muslim). He was born to Hagar after Abraham’s (Abram’s) wife Sara (Sarai) lost faith in God ever giving her a child.  Other Shia sects follow a younger brother of Ishmael (but surely not Isaac).

Karim Aga Khan is the son of Prince Aly Khan, once upon a time married to America actress Rita Hayworth. Prince Aly Khan was first married to another Western woman Joan Barbara Yarde-Buller, whose father was Baron Churston. Many ties to the West in this family. Karim Aga Khan was born in Geneva Switzerland.

His grandfather, Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan, bypassed his wild and randy son, Prince Aly Khan and selected Karim as the next Aga Khan. Today, Karim is 74 years old. He is considered the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims and an Imam.

Karim Aga Khan is said to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. He grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. His first wife, was a model, Sarah “Sally” Frances Croker-Poole. She was born in India to English parents. They divorced after 25 years of marriage. They have three children together, including the oldest, a daughter, Zahra Aga Khan, who is reportedly married to an Anglican Christian man, Mark Boyden. The middle child and son appears not to be married. The youngest son is married to American Kristin J. White. They live in France. All three children were educated in the U.S.

After Frances Croker-Poole, Aga Khan IV married Gabriele zu Leiningen. They have a son and are now divorced. I find no record that he has married again.

Aga Khan IV has history of many, many good works around the world – most unlike most Islamic leaders. He has built universities and hospitals and is the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of development agencies with mandates that include the environment, health, education, architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities. AKDN agencies conduct their programmes without regard to faith, origin or gender.

From what I can find about Aga Khan IV, he certainly denounces the violence of Islamists, but at the same time, as with most Muslims, and especially Muslim leaders, he does not speak of the Koranic verses that lead extremists to do the violence. In the quote below, he tries to separate religion and politics, and those who see Islam as creating violence, he categorizes as “ignorant,” or due to “ignorance.”

Lafaye: You advocate a humanistic Islam. How do you react to the violent outpourings of certain political and religious leaders in the Middle East and to acts of terror carried out in the name of your religion?

Aga Khan: I studied history – specifically at Harvard – and I feel very uneasy when I see religion being held responsible for all the human problems that no one knows how to solve. When people talk about a “clash of civilizations” my response is that what we are in fact dealing with is a “clash of ignorances.” I think that most conflicts arise out of essentially political problems. I emphasize, it is not about religious but political issues. Religion is often no more than a pretext or, even more so, an instrument manipulated by political forces. Thus, the problems in the Middle East or Kashmir are, in the strictest sense, political but with an added religious dimension. This tendency is not peculiar to the Muslim world. Christian countries have had the same experience. You only have to look at Northern Ireland.

Governor Rick Perry has welcomed Aga Khan to Texas twice – I think both times in conjunction with a new community center built in Houston (the first time in 2002). About Aga Khan’s work, Perry said in April 2008 (read it all at TexasFred’s):

Rare is the religious leader whose vision is so extraordinary that his appeal transcends nationality, ethnicity and faith traditions. His Highness, the Aga Khan, is one such extraordinary leader. If the history of civilization is filled with chapters concerning the strife borne of differences over religion, race, tribe and language, then blessed indeed are the peacemakers who have heard a higher calling of unity, who have recognized our common bonds of humanity, and who have had the courage to say that: “Tolerance, openness and understanding towards other people’s cultures, social structures, values and faiths are essential to the very survival of an independent world”.

The Quran says: Truly those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabeans – whoever believes in God and the Last Day and is virtuous – surely their reward is with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve.”

In more ways than one, I have witnessed firsthand the extraordinary vision of His Highness, the Aga Khan. First, and most prominently, I have seen His vision of peace and unity reflected in the charitable lives of His followers in Texas, who contribute greatly to the fabric of our society, who have made many sacrifices for the sake of a brighter future for all of our children.

The danger here is that Perry quoted the Koran without acknowledging the verses that call for the extinction of all non-Muslims and Muslim domination of the world. Why can we not find one interviewer who will insist on having those questions answered? I readily admit that Christians believe that Christianity should cover the globe, but it is advocated no where that non-Christians will submit or be forced to submit and say they believe in Jesus Christ as a condition of being allowed to stay alive, as it is in Islam. One thing all Christians know, is while you can say you are a believer in Jesus Christ, if you do not believe in Him as your Savior, God knows your heart. It’s that simple. Christianity never seeks to make someone submit. Islam does, and they’ll tax you for it, as well. If you do not submit, you die. If you leave Islam you die. Quite different from Christianity. Aga Khan, in the interview linked above with Lefaye, is asked about acheiving lasting peace with Israel, and says:

I have never wanted to engage in this debate but I believe there is one fundamental requirement – a viable Palestinian state. Furthermore, I shall surprise you by saying that, as far as I am concerned, one of the conditions for peace is the acceptance of Israel by the Shia minority within the Muslim world. Iraq has a Shia majority, so does Bahrain, and there have always been large numbers of Shia in Lebanon. Let’s not forget that Bashar El-Assad is himself a Shia. This is an essential key, something that President Sarkozy understands very well. Agreement with Sunni countries** is fine, but it isn’t enough.

Indeed, we have no politicians quoting the disastrous verses in the Koran, but we do have some speaking out about some of the tenets of the Koran: Michele Bachmann signed an anti-Shariah pledge, which has nothing to do with eradicating Islam, but does affirm that she will never favor Shariah law in U.S. courts.  Rick Santorum has said Sharia is “evil” and has no place in American courts. Sarah Palin has spoken against The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and called them Islamists. We’ll see if Perry eventually joins the truth tellers.

Perry is a politician, and he had a dignitary in his state. He praised the first Ismaili Center in America, the Jamatkhana (Community Center). The Ismailimail website notes the following:

While some other presidential candidates bring up concerns about American Muslims’ loyalty and decry Islamic law in the U.S., here’s a Christian, Republican politician who initiated a teacher-training program on Islamic history and has been friends for years with the Aga Khan, head of an Islamic sect called Ismailis, Salon points out. Perry even laid the first brick at the groundbreaking ceremony for an Ismaili worship center in Plano in 2005.

According to Ismaili national spokesman Mahmoud Eboo, the premise of the Salon story is true, and despite criticism for his Christians-only prayer rally, Perry serves on behalf of all Texans “regardless of race, color or faith.”

The governor — like other American politicians (everyone from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to President John F. Kennedy) — has built a relationship with the Aga Khan based on respect and mutual interest, one that could be carried into the White House if Perry runs and gets elected.

“His Highness (the Aga Khan) will continue to work with our leaders, whether it’s Gov. Perry or anyone else,” said Eboo. “The fact that His Highness already knows the governor is advantageous.”

At Aga Khan’s 2002 visit to Texas he “honored” Rick Perry with a dinner and a speech. That evening, Perry spoke:

Governor Perry echoed some of these sentiments when he spoke of the need “… to heed the lessons of centuries past: that peace among men can never be achieved through division … it can only be achieved when we realise our common hopes, our common bonds, our common humanity.”

I found an interesting post written by a man (I think) who “reverted” from Ismaili Islam to Islam. It is clear that he sees the two as not one and the same. He indicates that Imam Aga Khan forgives sin, which in the writer’s view can only be done by Allah. He says Ismaili’s believe Aga Khan to be a “walking – talking” Koran. He believes those forgiven by Aga Khan (as well as his appointees) will not make it to heaven on the Day of Judgement because of how forgiveness is meted out. Ismaili followers are not instructed to make the Hajj, but when they do they are told the experience is a “glimpse” of Aga Khan. The writer believes Ismailis are vulnerable to Christian teachings, and so on. You can read that here.

When I read about Aga Khan IV the word “humanism” is usually there somewhere in the article. IV’s grandfather and predecessor was a humanist, or had leanings toward humanism. Both the Sultan (grandfather) and IV believe their brand of Muslim belief lends great respect to women. When I searched for “Ismaili women,” I found this:

Whats wrong with ismaili women?!

Why is it that EVERYTIME I meet a nice looking Ismaili woman shes worse than a MUNAFIQ??

1) They ALL drink.
2) They dress slutty (sorry but this is TRUE)
3) Dont want to live a religious life and will NEVER EVER wear the Hijab

Any brothers out there who has expereinced the same thing??

Ali

In this article on the Grandfather, on the Institute of Ismaili Studies, he is quoted speaking about “emancipated women:”

The Social Status of Women
Aga Khan III refused to identify mankind with man alone. His innermost feelings were moved by the need for the progress and improvement of females in society. He called women “the guardians of the life of the race.” The enhancement of their social status would improve the tone of the domestic realm and bring a higher and nobler idealism into the life of the state. In his view, the higher spiritual life of Muslim society was indebted to the example and influence of women. The general well-being of every community depends on the existence of emancipated women. No artificial barriers should obstruct their betterment. No narrow prejudices should deprive them of their natural rights and proper social status. Again and again he stressed the commanding importance of educating girls. He went to the extent of declaring that “Personally, if I had two children, and one was a boy and the other a girl, and if I could afford to educate only one, I would have no hesitation in giving the higher education to the girl.” He realised that the future of every generation was to be determined by the woman’s ability to lead the young along the right path and teach them the rudiments of culture. A woman was the carrier of civilisation and human sensitivities. She not only introduced values into our life but transmitted them to those who would come after us.

So there it is. I’m not an expert on any sect of Islam, and the above is the product of only a couple of hours research. Tell me what you think, or know. Thanks to Carl Middleton at GOD’S ANSWER is always Jesus for the tip on this story.

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook

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  • Slick Rick is not all that he appears to be. I just hope folks get to know more about him, before we all saddle up with him.

  • The IBP is Evil

    Khan may be a “progressive” or pose as such … Note that the notorious anti-American educational propaganda machine known as the International Baccalaureate Program (IBP) is funded and promoted, in part, by someone identified as “The Aga Khan.” IBP’s distortions about American government and it’s emphasis on progressive concepts is punctuated by but one reference, positive, to religion – one religion. Surprise, surprise! Guesses, anyone?

    Taqia is all about the mask; the mask that weakens sharia’s enemies.

    • The IBP is Evil, I didn’t know about this organization, but I do know that he gave the graduation speech at Brown. I have some information on that, that I will blog about. I’ll do some research on the IBP for that article. I agree that Taqia is a part of the life of Muslims. Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it.

      • Bob

        Im actually a graduate of the International Baccalaureate program from high School, Klein Oak specifically. I dont know understand why you are calling IBP evil, (that’s completely absurd) it’s a great academic program that has nothing to do with Islam, rather gives a global perspective to the normal High school experience.

        • Ran

          Funny this should come up. The islam reference is in their print material. I confronted our local Director of Ed about it to much blubbering because my daughter was coming home with some real doozies. The DoE’s response on that specific issue was that individual educators had “curriculum latitude.” This Aga Khan involvement – where is that? Perhaps it is on their website? Was it a one-time thing? Surely they publish who’s funding them.

          My daughter was enrolled for three years under IB. Made for plenty of fun at the dinner table! Once my daughter understood who the Blue Helmets are and who runs the refugee camps in the ME and the absolute fascist conditions there, well, the UN didn’t smell quite the way her teacher was suggesting.

          As to the “global perspective” and “inquiry-based” education, check truthaboutib(dot)com. Wish we had had access to them beforehand.

  • Your research on Aga Khan after reading Fred’s post was much more thorough than mine. It is interesting that Ismaili is talked about as thought it is something separate and apart from Islam. If Ismaili can be described as a sect of Islam, it must be relatively small. The humanistic views of Aga Khan are refreshing but you are correct to point out that the teachings of the Koran are never addressed. Good work, Maggie, thanks.

    Off subject if I may, my post today is titled “Palestinian State _ To Be or Not To Be?” Knowing your strong support for Israel, I would very much appreciate it if you could find the time to come by and share your thoughts.

  • Slick Rick is not all that he appears to be. I just hope folks get to know more about him, before we all saddle up with him

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