Saturday, May 24, 2008

Important Date Change: Aga Khan Film in Africa

Since we announced the Aga Khan Film - Africa Launch screening, we have received hundreds of e-mails for screenings elsewhere in East Africa (and the rest of the world for that matter!) We are working on securing screenings in Kenya and Uganda too and so we will push the date back for the Dar es Salaam screening by 2 or 3 weeks to try an accommodate as many of the other cities and countries as possible.

Those with tickets or on the wait list will still hold their positions. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your enthusiasm and support.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Aga Khan Film announces Presidential Bid in DC

Okay, not really, but you did open this blog!

Notes from the Capitol Hill Screening (May 20, '08):

Whenever I watch my film at a screening, I always have this fear that the DVD is going to skip or the player is going to malfunction in a meltdown! Then what am I going to do??! Do I apologize? Blame the organizer? The DVD manufacturer? Sit there shrinking in my seat? I decided that if it happened at the DC screening, I would just blame Bush as that seems to be going down well these days with everything.

Thankfully the film played smoothly and the screening went wonderfully! Thank you to Congresswoman Johnson and the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association for hosting the film. Big thanks to Illy for organizing, the panellists for participating, and the audiences for their support.

The panel discussion was with Dr Paul Heck, Professor at Georgetown in Islamic Studies, Dr Zahid Bukhari, Director of the America Muslim Studies Program at Georgetown, and myself. We got some interesting questions and one of them was:
How can businesses help with bridging these divides?

As we say in the film, the AKDN aspires to set an example that for-profit businesses can work in developing countries. For example, right now it is working with private equity firm Blackstone to build a dam in Uganda to increase the country’s electricity capacity. Interested businesses should consider working with the AKDN or similar organizations in what can be very fruitful private/NGO relationships. Making money is not bad. It is what one does with that extra money that can be good or bad. It is possible to make money and still benefit the country and its citizens. I think Grameen Bank has been a wonderful pioneer in this area of a for-profit which is positively impacting the society in which it is based.

At the end of the panel discussion, Congresswoman Johnson gave a heart-warming speech and Congressman Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, spoke energetically at the end for a few minutes. I will blog a follow-up to this in the next few days with more details of their speeches…

Congresswoman Johnson speaking on ignorance in our current world
R to L: Congresswoman Johnson, Dr Bukhari, Dr Heck, and Shamir

Shamir thinking what he is going to say today...(especially if the DVD player konks out)

In town from Alberta, my friend Jamie (aka designated paparazzi for the day)

Yes, yes: I am totally posing!

"Yes we can!"

Congressman Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress giving a funny and thoughtful speech

“In the past 50 years, the Aga Khan has been recognized as a global figure who has worked to represent the social conscience of Islam. I deeply respect the philanthropic efforts of his Aga Khan Development Network,” Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson said. “’An Islamic Conscience: The Aga Khan and the Ismailis’ is an impressive documentary.”

Thank you to Ilhaam "Illy" Jaffer, Congresswoman Johnson's assistant for all her hard work in pulling off the screening.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

DC screening

Have just landed and am excited for the screening today. It will be interesting to hear how US policy makers think about the film and the bigger issue of Islam and the West. Apparently a few ambassadors will be at the screening...

More to come...

From Congresswoman Johnson

Please note: Staff and interns are welcome and refreshments will be served.
May 20, 2008
Documentary Screening: An Islamic Conscience
THE AGA KHAN and the Ismailis

Dear Colleague,
I cordially invite you to a screening of An Islamic Conscience: THE AGA KHAN and the Ismailis documentary hosted by the Congressional Muslim Staff Association on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM in Longworth House Office Building, Room 1310.
For the past five decades, the Aga Khan has been the spiritual leader and Imam of the 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims in a world that has changed dramatically. From the end of colonialism and the expulsion of the Asians in Uganda to the fall of the Iron Curtain and 9/11, the Aga Khan has struggled for a common humanity in a divided world.
The groundbreaking documentary is 60 minutes long and looks at the Aga Khan and the Shia Ismailis for the first time through film.  There will be a post-film panel discussion with the Producer Mr. Shamir Alibhai, Director of American-Muslim Studies at Georgetown University Dr. Zahid Bukhari and Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University Mr. Paul Heck. The discussion will be focused on the issue of pluralism in relation to Muslims and non-Muslims.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008



We have some exciting news: we are launching the film in Africa at the end of the month!!

Many of you have been asking for a release there and we are happy to announce it has now come together. Reserve your FREE seat quickly for the May 28th Dar es Salaam screening as there are limited seats open to the public (details on securing your tickets below). We hope you can make it as we would love to see you there.


The acclaimed groundbreaking documentary AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE makes its
Africa debut in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on May 28th!


AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE: the Aga Khan and the Ismailis
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: 7PM, May 28th, 2008
Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski - A very limited number of seats open to the public
Tickets: Free and to be reserved at

PLUS: After the film there will be a special panel and Q&A with Shamir Allibhai (Filmmaker & Harvard Master’s candidate).


Press enquiries:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pictures from Stanford

Left to Right: Farid Senzai (moderator and Fellow and Director of Research, Institute of Social Policy and Understanding), Shamir Allibhai, Shazad Bashir (Professor, Dept of Religious Studies, Stanford), al-Husein Madhany (Strategist, One Nation)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

SF Screening and...Congresswoman Johnson to host screening on Capitol Hill!

The San Francisco Screening last night went FAN – TASTIC! Great mix of people and intuitive questions. One person even flew in just to see the film - from Tanzania!! Our fellow brothers and sisters at the Ismaili Students Association - Stanford did a wonderful job organizing and hosting the film for 300 people at the Annenberg Auditorium, Stanford University. One question I got asked in private that was following up on a question that I got asked in the Q+A, I thought I would share with you in paraphrase:

Ismaili audience member - Question: Hazar Imam’s unique participation in this documentary must have been for certain reasons. What do you think they were?
Shamir - Answer: Generally speaking, no one participates in a documentary unless they believe in the vision of the endeavor and they see opportunity in it to further their objectives, whether it is communications objectives or others.
Q: Then that must come with obligations for all of us Ismailis with respect to our role and your documentary. What do you expect from the community?
A: That comes with obligations to limit and halt the Ismaili piracy! (chuckle) It does, but it is an obligation for all Ismailis and non-Ismailis who see value in this film with its story and higher-level objectives to support the cause, to spread the word of the doc, and to host screenings even it is just in their home with a few of their friends and colleagues. And have the discussion – dialogue is a fundamental belief of our faith. Pluralism starts in our own backyard.

And....As announced last night at the screening…
Congresswoman Bernice Eddie Johnson of Texas and the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association will be hosting a premiere of the Aga Khan Film on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, May 20th, 2008. WOW, we are so excited. The screening will be open to policy makers, diplomats, and the public. Feel free to share with all those you know.

AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE invited to be screened on Capitol Hill by hosts Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
2PM – Room 1310
Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC
**Tickets are FREE**
**Open to the Public**

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.

For the past five decades, the Aga Khan has been the spiritual leader and Imam of the 15 million Ismaili Muslims in a world that has changed dramatically. From the end of colonialism and the expulsion of the Asians in Uganda to the fall of the Iron Curtain and 9/11, the Aga Khan has struggled for a common humanity in a divided world.
Securing a rare and exclusive interview with the Aga Khan and in the year of his Golden Jubilee, Bill Cran (multiple Emmy-award winning Director) and Shamir Allibhai have completed a two-year passion project to make the first documentary on the Aga Khan in over forty-five years.

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?