Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Text of Gov. Rick Perry’s Remarks to a Royal Texas Evening in Honor of His Highness the Aga Khan

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Monday, June 24, 2002  •  Speech

(NOTE:  Gov. Perry frequently deviates from prepared text.)

Thank you Secretary Shea.

Tonight is a special evening as we are honored to welcome to Austin His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, and Her Highness the Begum Aga Khan.  We are also honored to have with us this evening the elder son of His Highness, Prince Rahim.

In honor of their visit, I would like for you to join me in a toast.

“In a new century, may all men and women of good conscience and fervent faith follow the example of His Highness the Aga Khan, in pursuing the common good. May age-old differences be set aside wherever peace is jeopardized, and wherever freedom is thirsted for.  In the Middle East, in Kashmir, in Afghanistan…in every region in the world where there is strife and ethnic tension…may men and women of strong faith seek to heal the breach.

And may the events of the past year remind us all that though we come from different backgrounds, and are of different faiths, we share a common humanity, and common hopes: that are lives would be prosperous and meaningful, and that our children and their children would inherit a better world than the one we were born into.

For the courage and convictions of His Highness, and for the cause He has given much for…one of justice, peace, and understanding, I offer this toast.”

Two summers ago, I accompanied my father on his first return trip to Europe since the end of World War II.  During that visit, I had the great honor of meeting His Highness, and it was a visit I will treasure for the rest of my life. In a world torn asunder by strife, and ethnic tension, His Highness stands as a beacon of light, advancing the cause of peace, and lifting the hopes and hearts of all who are touched by his vision.

For hundreds of years, and from many lands and cultures, citizens of the world have descended upon this nation and this state 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 their contributions and sacrifices. Today we 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 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 proceeds 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.

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. Tonight, it is my great privilege to introduce an individual who is a proponent of peace, and whose legacy of compassion and charity will live for generations to come.

His Highness comes from a family with a long legacy of humanitarian service.  His grandfather was president of the League of Nations.  His father was Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations.  And his uncle has served as the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees.

Please give a Texas welcome to His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims..

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