Chicago, 4 November 2011 – At the invitation of Illinois State Governor Patrick Quinn, Mawlana Hazar Imam travelled to Chicago today to sign an Agreement of Cooperation between the State of Illinois and the Ismaili Imamat. During the visit, Hazar Imam and Governor Quinn also held talks on a range of issues of mutual interest, including early childhood education and media and communications.

The Agreement of Cooperation, the third such agreement with a US state, marks a historic milestone. It establishes a basis for long term collaborative programmes between the State and the institutions of the Imamat in the fields of education, environmental stewardship and management, health sciences, library and information sciences, infrastructure development, agricultural sustainability, and culture.

Describing Mawlana Hazar's Imam work, Governor Quinn expressed that “the great work of the Aga Khan Foundation, the Aga Khan University, the Network and people of his faith were quite inspirational” and that the Imam himself embodied the “definition of humanitarian – a man of the world and somebody who has a servant's heart”. In thanking Mawlana Hazar Imam for his visit to Illinois, “and his commitment in our state, in our country, in our world, to making it a better world,” Governor Quinn added, “I think that should be the mission of all of us that were put on earth, and given life by God, and what we do with our life is our gift back to God. Whatever faith you practice, it is important to understand that we are all together on this planet earth.”

The Governor further noted that the people of Illinois would contribute their “great skills and warm hearts” to achieving, in particular, the AKDN's mission of early childhood education which he felt was critically important.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, in his remarks, indicated that the agreement between the State of Illinois and the Network “brings access to knowledge” to develop civil society – knowledge that is necessary for civil society to fulfil its role in sustaining human development, especially in the developing world and in cases where governments are fragile.