Wednesday, January 2, 2008


For immediate release Dec. 28, 2007

The battle for “enlightened” Islam

New VisionTV documentary looks at the life and work of the Aga Khan

**Part of network’s Inspirational Leaders Week**

Born into a world of wealth and privilege, he devotes his life to eliminating poverty and inequality. A religious leader who traces his ancestry back to the Prophet Muhammad, he struggles to balance the traditional with the modern.

His Highness the Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, a Shi’ite sect with 15 million followers around the world. At a time when Islam is at odds with itself and with the West, the Aga Khan represents a voice of moderation, speaking out for pluralism and diversity, and promoting dialogue between civilizations.

But will he be heard?

On Friday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. and midnight ET/6 p.m. and 9 p.m. PT, VisionTV presents the Canadian television premiere of The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason, an hour-long exclusive documentary profile of this remarkable figure, who this year has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ascension. The program repeats on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason airs as part of VisionTV’s Inspirational Leaders event (Dec. 31 to Jan. 5), a week-long series of documentaries and feature films celebrating spiritual greats whose words and actions have changed the world. For more information on the week’s programming, please visit

The Ismailis are a people without a homeland. An oft-persecuted minority within Islam, they are scattered across more than 30 countries. The program shows how many Ismailis came to Canada when they were forced out of Uganda by Idi Amin.

It was the current Aga Khan’s grandfather, Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan, who created the Ismaili community as we know it today. Though a reputation for high living often overshadowed his achievements, he encouraged Ismailis to build modern institutions, promoted the education of women, and built a network of charities, schools and hospitals in the developing world.

In his will, he named his 20-year-old grandson, Prince Karim, as his successor, believing that Ismailis needed a leader who had grown up in the modern world – an Imam for “the atomic age.”

The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason reveals how this shy and studious young man became one of the world’s most respected faith leaders, tending to the spiritual lives of his followers while also operating one of the most important aid organizations in the world: the Aga Khan Development Foundation, which employs 70,000 people and invests more than $400 million in development aid every year.

For the Aga Khan, social improvement, pluralism and intellectual advancement are integral aspects of the Islamic faith but his message is being drowned out by the rise of militant fundamentalist Islam. He struggles to act as a force for moderation, and to establish bridges between Islam and the West. But it remains to be seen if this battle can be won.

The Aga Khan: A Voice of Reason is a Canada-UK production. The film features a rare interview with the Aga Khan, along with seldom-seen archival footage and expert commentary from religious scholars, political leaders and prominent Ismailis, including Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, Canada’s first Muslim Member of Parliament and Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer (no relation), Canada’s first Muslim Senator.

The documentary was written and produced by multiple Emmy-award winning Bill Cran with Shamir Allibhai (Producer) and Jane Chablani (Director). The Executive Producers are Andrea Nemtin, Clive Syddhall and Bill Nemtin. Joan Jenkinson is the Executive Producer for VisionTV.

For information on the Aga Khan Development Network, please visit

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Media Contact:

David Todd, Media Relations Manager
Phone: 416-368-3194, ext. 207

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