THURSDAY, JANUARY 23rd 1958
Source: Paigham-e-Imamat, pp. 13-14
Speeches, I, pp. 43-46
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I have been most moved by the wonderful welcome I have received in Karachi. Everyone has been so kind, and for me this day will always remain a brilliant memory.
To begin with, let me pay a tribute to the police of Karachi who have looked after the big crowds entering the city for this ceremony. And I would like to say a special word of gratitude to your President, a great and wise man, to whom Pakistan will always be indebted. May I take the opportunity of expressing my deep appreciation for the hospitality which he and Begum Mirza have given to my family.
Today I am speaking to you in a city and in a country which have a particular meaning to my family and myself. On November 2nd, 1877 my beloved grandfather was born here in Karachi. Through 72 years of Imamat, he guided his spiritual children to happiness and prosperity and some ten years ago, he saw a new Muslim state born. He believed strongly in Pakistan's future, and a very great number of Ismailis are now happily settled here.
The progress which this country has made since my visit in 1954 is astonishing. It brings to mind what is perhaps the most fundamental change in world politics: the growing influence of the Asian nations. Millions upon millions of people have won the right to independence. Their influence in the world counsels is becoming stronger every day; their voice is being listened to with increasing respect by the older nations of the West.
Pakistan's role among Muslim states and among Asian countries as a whole is of greatest interest and importance. Here is a nation, newly-born, unfettered by too many outworn traditions. She is free, therefore, to forge her own future, her own standard of living and her own set of normal principles. She is a Muslim country who must adopt herself to the fast changing world, but she has potentialities for a great future and I pray that she may fulfil it.
To my own community I would say this. We may be relatively small in numbers, but our influence is great. It is your duty to use that influence, not simply for the advancement of yourselves as individuals, nor even for the whole of Ismailis, but you must use it also for the benefit of Pakistan. As a community, our faith will always preserve our special identity, but there should be nothing exclusive in what you should do. To partake more thoroughly in this country's development, I hope to see my spiritual children spread out in all the walks of life. All the fields are open to you; it is for you to sow the seeds and to reap the fruit.
I have spoken of the tremendous political advances made by the nations of Asia. It should not be forgotten, however, that in Europe, America and Russia, there has been a simultaneous revolution in technology and industrial power. The huge new atomic power stations, the Sputniks and the vast throbbing machines of modern industrial life are symbols of a fresh chapter in material progress.
The end of the chapter is unforeseen, and in this sense the gulf between ourselves and the older countries is still very wide. It is a forbidding void, but though it may and should make us hesitate, let it not make us turn away.
Of one thing I am quite certain: through a strong educational system, sustained by Islam, our future prospects are happy ones. I do not believe that we should fear material progress nor should we condemn it. The danger is that it should become an obsession in our lives, and that it should dominate our way of thinking. There is no reason why our traditions and our faith should stop us from moving with our times, nor in fact why we should not lead our fellow men to new spheres of knowledge and learning.
We can have confidence in our future -- a confidence given to us by the certainty that our traditions and our religion will always inspire the creations of our hands and minds.
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