In fact, while I am sure the Aga Khan is a very spiritual man, he makes me think of Mitt Romney, who also is a very spiritual man who belongs to a religious group that is very big on tithing, and finds no contradiction between his spirituality and his interest in making lots of money.
(But then Osama bin Laden was a very rich religious leader, and he could hardly think of anything more fun to do than spreading Islam by sword, bomb, crashing airplane, suicide vest, and anything else he and his buddies could think of, so you never know what will float (or sink) someone’s boat.)
Hasan explained to us that while he was a Muslim from India, he belonged to a family of people who had lived in Kenya for three generations, and owned many business enterprises in Kenya. Hasan had moved to the United States at some point (so he could study in an American university). He earnestly assured us that he was a very peaceful Muslim. He also made appointments to interview each of us personally. In my interview, apparently recognizing my last name (Kahn) as a Jewish one, he asked me about my religious beliefs. When I explained that my ancestors were Jews, I was not a religious believer. He seemed perfectly happy with this answer. I consider it quite compatible with his religious approach to money (let’s make lots of money). I dimly grasped at the time, and feel more certain now, that he was only interested in 1) my desire to make a lot of money and 2) my willingness to subordinate myself to his ego.
As he spoke to the group, Hasan indicated that his ties to Kenya indicated that there were great business possibilities in promoting trade between Kenya and the United States. The main Kenyan products I remember him mentioning were tea and tropical hard woods (which are probably now considered as coming from endangered species of hardwood trees).
Hassan assured us that he had a lot of successful business experience, in part because his family were all successful business owners in Kenya and because he had a lot of successful business experience as a salesman in the United States, working for a large pharmaceutical company, selling what are called“ethical drugs,”an oxymoron similar to “military intelligence.”As soon as I realized he was a salesman, the hairs on the back of my neck stirred, just as the neck hairs on a vampire hunter stir when he notices a person in a coffee shop who casts no shadow.
After assuring us he was not a dangerous Muslim [only a greedy one], Hasan felt obligated to reassure us about Africa and Kenya.