Text of Gov. Rick Perry’s Remarks At Opening of Sugar Land Jamatkhana and Center
(NOTE: Governor Perry frequently deviates from prepared text.)
His Highness The Aga Khan, the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and Her Highness The Begum Aga Khan, you have given great honor to the people of Texas by your presence here today, and by your very kind words.
On behalf of the First Lady, and our 21 million citizens – including hundreds of thousands of Muslim Texans – we offer our warmest regards on this day of great celebration. It was two summers ago when I first met His Highness during a trip to France. It was a visit I will treasure for the rest of my life. On that day, I witnessed the compassion, love and character of the Islamic faith…all embodied by the leader of the Ismaili Muslim Community, His Highness the Aga Khan.
It is an honor to be joined today by so many friends and distinguished guests from the Ismaili Muslim Community of Texas. It was less than two years ago that many of us gathered for the foundation ceremony for this Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center. And now this great marvel of Islamic architecture, adorned with tremendous art, is open as a house of congregation where men and women united by a common faith can pursue the common good.
For hundreds of years, and from many lands and cultures, citizens of the world have descended upon this nation seeking refuge, opportunity and freedom.America is a diverse tapestry enriched by the many contributions, and the enduring character, of people of faith.
For many years, I have had the great honor of getting to know many of the talented and devoted Ismaili Muslims of Texas. And I have come to an unquestionable conclusion: Texas is a better place for your contributions and sacrifices.I come here today to pay tribute to a people who have demonstrated time and time again that their faith is more than a belief…it is a call to action. By standing on the courage of your convictions…through selfless acts of sacrifice…through kind deeds of charity…you have shown the beauty of your faith.
At the dawn of the 21st Century, we must heed the lessons of centuries past: that peace among men can never be achieved through a dialogue of division. It can only be achieved when we realize our common hopes, our common bonds, our common humanity.For more than a millennium, the Ismaili tradition has been rooted in understanding, enlightenment and tolerance. You have welcomed peace while shunning discord. You have practiced love while speaking out against hatred. Your faith has been a reservoir of hope for those seeking light.
Your commitment to education precedes the oldest centers of learning in Europe. Before there was an Oxford or a Cambridge, there was Al-Azhar, founded in the Year 971.That tradition thrives today, as Muslim men and women around the world seek educational opportunity at one of 300 learning centers worldwide supported by the Aga Khan Development Network…including the two international universities founded by Your Highness, the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia.
In Texas, we share the same vision of empowerment through education. We are proud that for the very first time, we have more than a million citizens in our state enrolled in an institute of higher learning.The Aga Khan Development Network is one of the premier charitable organizations around the world, meeting the education, health and economic needs of people of all faiths and nationalities who share a common condition: human need.
His Highness recently announced a $75 million contribution to the rebuilding of Afghanistan…a nation in great need as it rebuilds from the war on terror.A testament to the good work of His Highness is the universal respect he has garnered from the diverse Muslim community, both Shia and Sunni, and leaders of the many faiths.
All men and women of good will – be they Christian, Muslim, Jew or of any other great faith – must work to seek harmony, foster a dialogue of respect, and overcome age-old differences and grievances that serve as barriers to the social progress worthy of mankind.On these principles, His Highness has given great guidance when he offered these words about the Islamic cause: “we are trustees of God’s creation, and we are instructed to seek to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it.”
That is not just the challenge of the Muslim believer, but for all who seek peace…to live lives that have a lasting, positive impact on our fellow man.This new center will leave a lasting imprint on Texas. It will promote the virtues of your faith. It will further the cause of peace and understanding. And it will reflect gloriously upon this Texas we love.
Thank you, and may God bless you.
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