Menu Close

His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, impressed scientists during his visit to Los Alamos Lab in 1959

The following is the text of report which appeared under the title “Young Aga Khan tours health lab on surprise Thanksgiving visit” in “NASL Community News” of December 3, 1959, Volume 1 Number 24. See image of the report, below.

The Moslem dignitary eagerly donned the required surgeon’s scrub suit to be measured in the Laboratory’s whole body counter and appeared gratified to learn that his high potassium content indicated top physical condition.

His Highness The Aga Khan IV, handsome 23-year-old spiritual leader of Ismaili Moslems in 21 countries, flew in early Thursday by special Carco on a surprise visit to inspect the facilities and the work of the Health Research Laboratory and to discuss research problems with Dr. Thomas L. Shipman, H Division leader, and Wright H. Langham associate division leader for biomedical research.


The young prince is on a two and a half million dollar fund-raising tour to help the African Research Foundation finance a medical research wing at the Aga Khan Platinum Jubilee Hospital established by the prince last year in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. The money raised by the foundation will be matched by a personal gift from the Aga Khan. Accompanying the Aga Khan on his trip, which combines fund raising with inspection of various research facilities in the country, are Dr. Thomas D. Rees of New York, president of the foundation; Michael Curtis, Kenya newspaper publisher; and Madame Beguel, the Aga Khan’s private secretary.

The trip to Los Alamos was an off-shoot of a brief visit with Dr. Randolph Lovelace, [1] head of the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque and a foundation director. Dr. Lovelace accompanied the group to the Hill.


Friendly, smiling and intensely interested in all he saw, the Aga Khan impressed his scientific hosts with astute questions on every phase of medical research.

He manifested particular interest in the Laboratory’s work in tissue culture and its potentials for cancer research, in the genetic effects of both radiation and inbreeding in mouse colonies, the use of radioactive isotopes in diagnostic medicine, and the possibilities of using whole body counters for studying problems of aging.

The Moslem dignitary eagerly donned the required surgeon’s scrub suit to be measured in the Laboratory’s whole body counter and appeared gratified to learn that his high potassium content indicated top physical condition.

Text of report continues after image…..

aga khan alamos lab visit report

Image of  report that appeared in “NASL Community News” on  December 3, 1959, Volume 1 Number 24, under the heading “Young Aga Khan tours health lab on surprise Thanksgiving visit.”


Eldest son of Prince Aly Khan, the prince succeeded his grandfather, Aga Khan III as Imam of the Shiah Moslem Ismaili sect on July 12 1957. In nominating his grandson as his successor, the Aga III wrote in his will:

“In view of the fundamentally altered conditions of the world in recent years, due to the great changes that have taken place including the discoveries of atomic science, I am convinced that it is in the best interests of the Shiah Moslem Ismaili community that I should be succeeded by a young man who has been brought up and developed during the recent years and in the midst of a new age and who brings a new outlook on life to his high office as Imam.”

Assuming his responsibilities, the new Imam interrupted his studies at Harvard to make an extended tour of Ismaili settlements in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. A year later he returned to school and was graduated with honors in June this year. Before leaving Harvard, he made a gift of $50,000 which, with a like amount spent by the university, established a ten-year program of scholarship assistance at Harvard for students from Asia and Africa.

Expressing extreme appreciation for his whirlwind visit, the engaging young leader told his hosts: “Don’t be surprised when you hear of my making speeches in Pakistan about all I have learned here. It has been a really wonderful visit.”


Press Release: Aga Khan’s Thanksgiving Day Visit


Text of press release shown above:

Los Alamo, New Mexico, November 27, 1959: A surprise Thanksgiving Day visit was paid to the health research center of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory by Aga Khan IV, youthful spiritual leader of 20,000,000 Moslems in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The 23-year-old Imam of the Shiah Moslem Ismalli sect is currently touring medical institutions throughout the United States with the purpose of raising money to support a surgical wing in a hospital which he established in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa last year. His trip to Los Alamos was an offshoot of a two-day visit to Dr. Randolph Lovelace [1], head of the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque. 

Hosts of the Moslem dignitary for the Laboratory were Dr. Thomas L. Shipman and Dr. Wright Langham of the LASL health division. They greeted the Aga Khan at 9:20 am at the Los Alamos airstrip and spent two hours demonstrating to him the cancer research facilities of the biomedical building. The visitors returned by plane to Albuquerque at 11:00 am.

Accompanying the Aga Khan to Los Alamos were Dr. Lovelace Dr. Thomas Rees, plastic surgeon associated with Cornell Medical School; Michael Curtis [2], a traveling companion; and Madame Buguel, private secretary.

Date posted: January 21, 2019.

This website has an excellent array of thoughtful articles and beautiful photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Do not leave this website before checking out Barakah’s Table of Contents.



[1] William Randolph “Randy” Lovelace II (December 30, 1907 – December 12, 1965) was an American physician who made contributions to aerospace medicine. He studied medicine at the Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1934. In 1958 he was appointed the chairman of the NASA Special Advisory Committee on Life Science. As head of NASA’s Life Sciences, he would then play a key role in the selection of the astronauts chosen for Project Mercury. In 1965 Lovelace and his wife Mary were flying in a private plane near Aspen, Colorado. Their pilot became disoriented and flew into a blind canyon. All three people were killed in the crash.

His Highness the Aga Khan being greeted by Mr. Michael Curtis of the Nation Group. Photo: Azhar Chaudhry. Sultan Jessa Collection.[2] Mr. Michael Howard Curtis, shown at right with His Highness the Aga Khan, was a British Fleet Street editor and executive. He was born in Cambridge, England, in 1920 and was introduced to the Aga Khan just as he had been proclaimed the 49th Ismaili Imam. His recruitment as a staff of the new Imam was intended as a short term assignment as a speech writer and publicity organizer during a series of public appearances related to the Aga Khan’s installation as Imam. His brief assignment, however, grew into an engagement with the Aga Khan that spanned several decades. Michael Curtis was asked to establish the Nation Media Group, which started publishing the Sunday Nation and subsequently the Daily Nation in Kenya. Then later at the Aga Khan’s Headquarters in Aiglemont, France, he oversaw the Ismaili Imamat’s rapidly expanding non-denominational health and educational activities throughout South Asia and East Africa, until his retirement in 1994. He died from cancer in 2004 at the age 84. Please see his excellent piece on the Aga Khan “I was serving no ordinary man”


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


Prince Rahim Aga Khan: Pluralism Harnesses Human Creativity and Kindles the Very Spirit of the Knowledge Society

[DEFINITIONS: What is meant by the Knowledge Society? In a speech [1] delivered in Karachi, His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, said that “the key to intellectual progress will not lie in any single body of instruction, but in a spirit of openness to new expression and fresh insights.” He suggested that we were moving into a new epoch of history, a new condition of human life and added, “Many observers describe this new world as the Knowledge Society — contrasting it with the Industrial Societies or the Agricultural Societies of the past. In this new era, the predominant source of influence will stem from information, intelligence and insight rather than physical power or natural resources. This Knowledge Society will confront people everywhere with new challenges — and new opportunities.”

Abdul Waheed Khan (general sub-director of UNESCO for Communication and Information) said in an interview: “Whereas I see the concept of ‘information society’ as linked to the idea of ‘technological innovation’, the concept of ‘knowledge societies’ includes a dimension of social, cultural, economical, political and institutional transformation, and a more pluralistic and developmental perspective.” [2]


Prince Rahim Aga Khan

Prince Rahim Aga Khan

We are all aware that we live in a world where diversity is often evoked as a threat and, more particularly, where diversity in the interpretation of a faith can be seen as a sign of disloyalty. This phenomenon is sometimes perceived to apply principally to Muslims, but it also exists in other societies.

Absolutist, exclusivist, and rejectionist claims to the truth, especially to religious truth, are increasingly heard from all quarters.

Rather than seeing religion as a humble process of growth in faith, some people presume to claim that they have arrived at the end of that journey and can therefore speak with near-divine authority.

Unfortunately, in some parts of the Muslim world today, hostility to diverse interpretations of Islam, and lack of religious tolerance, have become chronic, and worsening, problems. Sometimes these attitudes have led to hatred and violence. At the root of the problem is an artificial notion amongst some Muslims, and other people, that there is, or could ever be, a restricted, monolithic reality called Islam.

Our Ismaili tradition, however, has always accepted the spirit of pluralism among schools of interpretation of the faith, and seen this not as a negative value, but as a true reflection of divine plenitude. Indeed, pluralism is seen as essential to the very survival of humanity….many Qur’anic verses and hadiths of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) acknowledge and extol the value of diversity within human societies….the hadith to the effect that differences of interpretation between Muslim traditions should be seen as a sign of the mercy of Allah.

It should also be clear to anyone who has studied Islamic history or literature, that Islam is, and has always been, a quest that has taken many forms. It has manifested itself in many ways — in different times, amongst different peoples, with changing and evolving emphases, responding to changing human needs, preoccupations, and aspirations.

Even during the early centuries of Islam, there was diversity of intellectual approaches among Muslims. Today, however — both outside the Islamic world and inside it — many people have lost sight of, or wish to be blind to, Islam’s diversity, and to its historical evolution in time and place along a multitude of paths. It befalls us, then, to help those outside the Muslim World to understand Islamic diversity, even as we provide an intellectual counterpoint to those within Islam who would reject it.

The untrue and unfair, but increasingly widespread equating of the words “Islam” and “Muslim” with “intolerance”, sometimes even with the word “terrorism”, could lead some Muslims to feel despair, indignation, or even shame.

To me, however, the current global focus on the Muslim world, and on Islam itself, presents a golden opportunity for us to educate and enlighten, while actively exemplifying the counterpoint I mentioned before.

To my eyes, it creates an opportunity, and an even-greater obligation for us to make a positive and visible impact on the world — on culture and art, science and philosophy, politics and ecology, among others.

In order to respond to this opportunity, it will be crucial to reverse another damaging consequence of intolerance, which has been the dissuasion of many Muslim populations from seeking access to what has been called the Knowledge Society. Without an acceptance of diversity, without the ability to harness the creativity that stems from pluralism, the very spirit of the Knowledge Society is stifled.

We must encourage that Muslims of all communities come together, working collaboratively to tap into the vast endowment of knowledge available today, and without which progress is, if not halted, at least deferred. This cannot be done in the absence of open-mindedness and tolerance.

Implicit in this approach is the need for humility, which is also a central Muslim value. We must all search for the answers to the challenges of our generation, within the ethical framework of our faith, and without pre-judging one another or arbitrarily limiting the scope of that search.

We must enthusiastically pursue knowledge on every hand, always ready to embrace a better understanding of Allah’s creation, and always ready to harness this knowledge in improving the quality of life of all peoples.

Intellectual pursuits should, wherever possible, seek to address the universal aspirations of humankind, both spiritual and concrete. Those aspirations, for our generation more than for any before, are intertwined in a single global community.

It can be overwhelming at times to ponder the vast array of new problems which seem to multiply in this globalised world. These include the implications of new technologies and new scientific insights, raising new ethical and legal questions. They include delicate and complex ecological issues, such as the great challenge of climate change. They include matters ranging from the widening gap between rich and poor, to issues of proper governance and effective, fair, and representative government, and to the spread of rampant consumerism and greed, at the expense of others, or of our environment.

In some communities, illiteracy and innumeracy are not only continuing problems but are even growing problems.

And our challenges also include the increasing difficulty of nurturing pluralism in the face of strong normative trends — finding ways to accommodate our differences — even as hugely differing peoples find themselves in much closer contact with one another.

Date posted: January 20, 2019.

Prince Rahim’s remarks have been adapted from a speech he delivered at the IIS Graduation Ceremony in London, England, on September 11, 2007. [3]

This website has an excellent array of thoughtful articles and beautiful photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Do not leave this website before checking out Barakah’s Table of Contents.


[1] Address by His Highness the Aga Khan at the AKU Convocation in Karachi, 2006
[2] Towards Knowledge Societies. An Interview with Abdul Waheed Khan
[3] Commencement Address by Prince Rahim

Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa with their sons Prince Sinan and Prince Irfan. Photo: The Ismaili.Prince Rahim Aga Khan is the eldest son of the 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. Based at the Secretariat of His Highness at Aiglemont, north of Paris, France, Prince Rahim is an executive Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) — the economic development arm of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). He also serves as an Executive Director at the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM). He is pictured with his wife, Princess Salwa, and their two sons Prince Sinan (b. January 2, 2017) and Prince Irfan (b. April 11, 2015).


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan and Germany’s Minister of State Speak about Stabilization Measure Experiences in Northern Afghanistan

The following are excerpts from speeches made on January 15, 2019 in Berlin, by Germany’s Minister of State Niels Annen and the 49th Ismaili Imam His Highness the Aga Khan at the event “Fragile States ‘Weiterdenken’ (‘Thinking Ahead’) – Utilising Experiences from Stabilisation Measures for the Future”. The event brought together leaders from the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), of which His Highness is the Chairman, and German development partners.

Since the term “fragile” in the context of nations is a frequent occurrence in both the speeches, we begin this post by providing definitions of fragile states from two separate sources.

The Meaning of Fragile States 

A state that is fragile has several attributes, and such fragility may manifest itself in various ways. [1] Nevertheless, some of the most common attributes of state fragility may include:

  • The loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force;
  • The erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions;
  • An inability to provide reasonable public services;
  • The inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines fragile states [2] as follows: “A state is fragile when it is unable or unwilling to perform the functions necessary for poverty reduction, the promotion of development, protection of the population and the observance of human rights“. In other words the state is unable to perform basic functions in the areas of security, rule of law and basic social services.

Furthermore the governments of these countries are unable to develop constructive and interactive relations with the population and society. 


Germany’s stabilisation measures is to create a safe environment and to visibly improve living conditions in fragile contexts

niels annen with his highness the aga khan

Niels Annen with His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: Facebook Page of Niels Annen.

Minister of State, Germany

(The following are excerpts from Niels Annen’s speech – link to full speech at bottom of this post. The photo, above, is from

We are lucky in Europe. Our continent is – and this is partly thanks to the European Union as a unique peace project – largely characterised by peace and friendship. Since the end of the Second World War, we have grown ever closer and on days like these in particular, we are well advised to recall our sense of community.

Unfortunately, we can all feel the forces that are tugging us apart. And that has not only been the case since the now imminent meaningful vote in the House of Commons.

The trend of retreating to the nation-state and believing that one is better off alone poses a threat. This notion is based on an obvious fallacy, one that will permanently weaken us and lead to division. That is what we need to address, not least so future generations do not remember us as the people who jeopardised peace in Europe – a huge feat after the end of the Second World War – out of pure and unadulterated egocentrism.

Naturally, things are far worse in other parts of the world, where it is not a matter of political division or the weakening of a strong multilateral system, but rather of violent conflicts and wars with countless civilian casualties.

Ladies and gentlemen, what happens in a place that has been marked by fighting and, in some cases, years of conflict? What are the prospects when a ceasefire reveals a country whose infrastructure has been destroyed? How can reconciliation, let alone new social cohesion, be brought about?

These questions must primarily be answered by the population of a country itself. However, the international community can support this process. We in the German Government refer to such support as “stabilisation”. We support political processes in conflict management, strengthen legitimate stakeholders and foster peaceful conflict resolution.

The aim of our stabilisation measures is to create a safe environment and to visibly improve living conditions in fragile contexts. After a conflict has ended, we want to enable legitimate local structures of order to offer the public something more appealing than the status quo of violent conflict as soon as possible.

Stabilisation thus also creates the first prerequisites for reconciliation between parties to a conflict and for establishing fundamental consensus in society – the foundation for lasting political stability, participatory political structures and long-term development. The broadest and most inclusive participation possible by all population groups is crucial to success.

Allow me to mention one example – Afghanistan.

Along with KfW and the Aga Khan Development Network, we have provided 112 million euros for smaller infrastructure projects in northern Afghanistan since 2010, building schools, roads, bridges and government buildings in four provinces in the northern part of the country. In places where infrastructure is built, children can attend school once again and the local administration can do its work in a safe environment, the outlook is brighter. The wish for a better future – for a peaceful future – no longer seems so far-fetched.

This type of support requires the right kind of structures. KfW and the Federal Foreign Office have undergone similar processes in this regard. In the latter, this led to the establishment of the Directorate-General for Stabilisation. And in KfW, it led to the decision to make cooperation in fragile contexts the third pillar of the development bank, alongside financing in developing and transitional countries and climate financing.

In both cases, further efforts were and are needed in order to overcome institutional inertia and long-standing principles in development cooperation. A process of that kind involves a huge amount of work, but it is worthwhile in the end.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to be able to react rapidly and flexibly to changing political circumstances in crisis contexts. That is what stabilisation can achieve, as its main aims are to ensure that a post-conflict vacuum cannot come about in the first place and to show the public that we support the desire for peace. 

We have worked very well with KfW for years and there is great trust between us. Our cooperation goes beyond Afghanistan.

The joint projects between the Federal Foreign Office and KfW stand for what can be achieved in fragile contexts and with the help of the means available to us. Our measures deliver verifiable political value-added and, as confirmed for example by the research conducted alongside our stabilisation efforts in northern Afghanistan, achieve an impact in fragile contexts that lasts beyond the changing security situations.

Ladies and gentlemen, our approach can be used in various fragile contexts. No matter the specific crisis context we are talking about, the speed of positive change after the end of a conflict is particularly relevant to the impact of the stabilisation measures. Naturally, the public must play a role in this process. Time and again, we must seek participatory and the most inclusive solutions in order to strengthen the legitimacy of public action and to make the peace dividend tangible for everyone, as that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the overarching goals of stabilisation measures.

Ladies and gentlemen, the current situation in Afghanistan shows that stabilisation remains a risky business. The level of violence in the country has not improved and the Taliban have not been pushed back. Reports on the supposed plans for US withdrawal are leading to anxiety among the stakeholders and damaging the efforts to foster a political process, which have been more intensive than ever in recent months. In the eighteenth year of our engagement in Afghanistan, we should not attempt to whitewash the situation. But neither should we give in to pessimism. Stabilisation is and will remain a cornerstone of German foreign-policy work. It completes the German Government’s joined-up approach for greater peace and security.

I look forward to hearing the viewpoints of His Highness, whose foundation has been active in many fragile contexts for decades, and to the discussion with you.


AKDN’s Vital Ingredients for Stability within any Country, but Especially for Fragile Regions

aga khan berlin germany januay 15, 2019

His Highness the Aga Khan speaking on January 15, 2019, in Berlin, Germany at the event “Fragile States ‘Weiterdenken’ (‘Thinking Ahead’). Photo: Thorsten Futh/ KfW Bankengruppe via AKDN.


(The following excerpts with sub-headings are adapted from the Aga Khan’s remarks; link to original speech at bottom of this post)

A Vital 25 Year Global Partnership with Germany

It is my pleasure to celebrate here today the special partnership between Germany and the Aga Khan Development Network, or AKDN. Over the past 25 years, we have implemented almost € 600 million of programmes together in Asia and in Africa –spanning clean energy and infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, financial services and tourism, as well as education, health and civil society.

In all of this work, our relationship with the KfW Development Bank and DEG remains vital….I should especially thank the Federal Foreign Office and the Ministry of Development, or BMZ, for their key support.

The breadth of AKDN’s global partnership with Germany is reflected in extensive cooperation in Afghanistan. Together our institutions have strengthened regional connectivity through cross-border infrastructure; improved health through public-private partnerships; and restored Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage at the Bagh-e-Babur and Chihilsitoon Gardens, and now the Kabul riverfront project.

We have also used an innovative programme of small, community-led infrastructure projects to encourage local people to take charge of their development.

Stabilisation Programme: 3 Crucial Elements

This Stabilisation Programme for Northern Afghanistan was the springboard for today’s conference and tonight’s dialogue.

Over € 100 million has been programmed through community consultations into 450 projects, responding to the needs identified by local people as most important to them. These build more than infrastructure: they also build trust, they enhance government legitimacy and civic engagement.

Those are vital ingredients for stability within any country, but especially for fragile regions. These are hallmarks of AKDN’s approach, developed in places such as Northern Pakistan, post-conflict Tajikistan or Afghanistan, as well as Syria, Mali, Mozambique and elsewhere.

From this experience in stabilisation, we would emphasise three crucial elements:

1. Building credibility and confidence at local level.

The first key lesson is to concentrate at the local level. Wherever the national conditions are unfavourable – in fragile or conflict situations they rarely are favourable –meaningful changes often start fastest locally, quickly building credibility and confidence.

2. Commitment to Pluralism

The second lesson is that commitment to pluralism is essential. The consultations must be wide, and everyone in the community must benefit. I have learnt this lesson during my more than 60 years as the Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, responsible for the spiritual and physical well-being of my Jamat and – most crucially in this context – for those with whom they live, whatever their faith or creed.

3. Investing in Civil Society

Finally, we would insist on the critical importance of civil society, which we refer to as private organisations designed to serve public goals. Such institutions are stabilising factors and points of continuity where security is fragile and politics are volatile. Consequently, investing in them, alongside the state, remains critical.

Germany’s Leadership Role

The world needs Germany’s principled and pragmatic leadership role – now more than ever. As Germany reflects on the future of its commitment in Afghanistan and the nature of its engagement in other parts of the world, I hope that it will draw on these principles that have guided our cooperation together over such a long time – emphasising local participation, promoting pluralism and strengthening the institutions of civil society.

Thank you very much.


Stabilisation Programme Northern Afghanistan (SPNA) Summary 

Programme: Stabilisation Programme Northern Afghanistan (SPNA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Foreign Office
Partner: Aga Khan Foundation Afghanistan (AKF-A), ACTED and Mercy Corps (MC)
Implementing organisations: KfW
Provinces: Badakshan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar
Programme objective: Stabilise fragile regions by improving socio-economic infrastructure and strengthening local development councils.
Overall term: March 2010 – December 2019

Full details at Also visit the home page for links to other important projects.

Date posted: January 17, 2019.

This website has an excellent array of thoughtful articles and beautiful photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Do not leave this website before checking out Barakah’s Table of Contents.


References and Links:

[1]. Fragile state definition at
[2]. Fragile state definition at
[3]. For complete speech by Neils Annen, please click
[4]. For full speech of His Highness the Aga Khan please click Remarks


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan on the importance of education: The story of his Czech coach


Very early after the end of the second world war, my brother and I were sent to school in Switzerland, Le Rosey, and after a few years at that school, a new coach for rowing became part of the school and we were told that he would also coach the ice hockey team during the winter term.

His name was Vaclav Rubik, not the one of Rubik’s cube fame but rather, like the famous cube itself, a challenging influence. He was also one of the most talented and intelligent sportsmen that I have ever met. He was in the Czech national ice hockey team which has been one of the best in the world, and he was also in the national Eights and Fours without Coxswain. His wife was in the Czech national field hockey team. So Le Rosey was extremely fortunate to have two exceptional athletes available for coaching.

But there was another dimension to Vaclav Rubik. He had a doctorate in Law, and he and his wife were political refugees who had fled on foot all the way from Czechoslovakia to Switzerland. He was a charismatic individual, and after only a couple of years of training he succeeded in putting together an under-18 crew of Fours, which won just about every race it competed in, including the Swiss National Championship for all ages.

We used to spend long hours in buses driving from one rowing competition to another, and from one ice hockey match to another. I remember asking him what he intended to do, as I could not see a man of such quality remaining indefinitely as a sports coach in a small Swiss school. His answer was that he had applied for acceptance as a political refugee to the United States, and that as soon as he would be allowed to come here he would do so.

I asked him how he would earn his living once he came to the United States, as I was certain that he would not want to continue his career as a sports coach, and his answer has remained in my mind ever since. He said:

“My wife and I fled from Czechoslovakia with nothing, other than the clothes on our back and the shoes on our feet, but I have had a good education and when I arrive in the United States, that is what will enable me to obtain the type of employment I would wish.”

Once he left Le Rosey, I somewhat lost touch with him, and the last thing I heard was that he had become a very senior executive in the Singer Sewing Machine Company.

The moral of the story is clear – you can have nothing in your pocket, and only the clothes and the shoes you wear, but if you have a well educated mind, you will be able to seize the opportunities life offers you, and start all over again.

I suspect that many members of the Ismaili Community, like other Asians who were expelled by Idi Amin from Uganda, and who made successful new lives in other parts of the world, would tell you the same story.

Date posted: January 12, 2019.


Please read Full speech and reports on the AKDN website: His Highness the Aga Khan at the annual meeting of the International Baccalaureate

See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Keeping Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee Memory Alive For Ever: We Offer You a Unique Numbered Limited Edition 2-Piece Framed Set of First Day Covers & Stamps Honouring Our Beloved 49th Imam

(Publisher/Editor Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos; .Com)

Hold the historical moment of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee for ever with a numbered 2-set frame of stamps, first day covers, motifs as well as a unique Portuguese souvenir sheet affixed with a genuine 1.25 mm diamond.

Photo: Copyright © Simerg/The Ismaili Collection.

In the extraordinary life of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, the contributions he has made during his Imamat around the world have been recognized, admired and cherished by numerous countries as well as eminent institutions and organizations.

During his 60 year reign, he has guided the spiritual growth of his followers, the Ismailis, and worked tirelessly for their material welfare and progress.

Mawlana Hazar Imam has described his mission as encompassing not only the interpretation of matters of faith, but also the economic, social, and cultural environments. This engagement, grounded in the ethics of Islam, has led to initiatives that, over the past six decades, have had a profound impact on the lives of millions, Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike. His beacon of inspiration and accomplishment in improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest, most deprived and most diverse communities has been recognized around the world.

During the year long celebration of his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years of Imamat from July 11, 2017 to July 11, 2018, Mawlana Hazar Imam at the official invitation of various governments travelled to 11 countries. In 3 countries that he visited – Tanzania, Pakistan and Portugal – he was presented with official stamps, first day covers as well as related philatelic objects to honour him on his Diamond Jubilee.

Simerg, Barakah’s sister website, has now captured this piece of Diamond Jubilee history in a two-piece framed set which illustrate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s commitment to the well-being and dignity of all human beings, regardless of faith, origin or gender. 

Presentation of commemorative philatelic objects to His Highness the Aga Khan

l to r: Presentation of commemorative stamps and first day covers to His Highness the Aga Khan in Tanzania, Pakistan and Portugal.

Ismaili Collection - Portugal Diamond Jubilee Stamps

Photo: Copyright © Simerg/The Ismaili Collection.

The limited edition numbered set – only 60 will be available – brings alive one of the most historical events in modern Ismaili history – the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. The set has a unique permanence and is an enduring record to be cherished by present and future generations of Ismailis as well as friends of the community. 

The mounting of this treasured set is being done exclusively for Simerg’s ISMAILI COLLECTION SERIES by Malen Framing, one of Ottawa’s finest and leading framing companies. The high quality pewter toned silver frame is manufactured in the USA, and protected by UV glass (to prevent fading).

Each set will be numbered from 1 to 60. The number will be inscribed on a special plate that will also include the name of each purchaser.

gaston and merchant discuss framed diamond jubilee stamps

Malen Framing’s owner Gaston Malenfant discusses frame options and stamp layout with Simerg’s Malik Merchant.

Here are the details of the two frames, and how to reserve/order them:



First Day Covers and Stamps issued by Pakistan and Tanzania. Frame size appx. 23″ x 28″. Photo: Copyright © Simerg/The Ismaili Collection. Image scan by Martin Photography, Ottawa.

Countries represented: Official First Day Covers, Mint Stamps, Diamond Jubilee Motifs, issued by postal authorities in Pakistan and Tanzania.

Size: Appx. 23″ by 28″ (or appx. 58.4 cms by 71.1 cms). See photo, above.

Features: A high quality and durable metallic frame; Made in the USA; protected with UV glass to prevent fading. Frame supplied with a wall hanging kit. Mounted in Canada by Malen Framing, a distinguished framer in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.

Limited Edition: The frame will come with a plate containing a number from 1 to 60. The same number will also appear on the plate for Frame 2. The plate will also be inscribed with the purchaser’s name (or, optionally, if it is a gift, the gift recipient’s name).



Ismaili Collection - Portugal Diamond Jubilee Stamps

 Diamond Souvenir Sheet, First Day Covers, Stamp, and a comprehensive profile of His Highness the Aga Khan issued by Portugal. Frame size: 26.5″ x 20″. Photo: Copyright © Simerg/The Ismaili Collection. Image scan by Martin Photography, Ottawa.

Countries represented: Exclusively Portugal. Mounted on the frame are a Souvenir Sheet affixed with a Genuine Diamond, First Day Covers, Official Stamp, Stamp features including a profile of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Size: Appx. 26.5″ by 20″ (or appx. 67.3 cms by 50.8 cms). See photo above.

Features: A high quality and durable metallic frame; Made in the USA; protected with UV glass to prevent fading. Frame supplied with a wall hanging kit. Mounted in Canada by Malen Framing, a distinguished framer in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.

Limited Edition: The frame will come with a plate containing a number from 1 to 60. The number on Frame 2 will correspond to the number on Frame 1. The plate will also be inscribed with the purchaser’s name (or, optionally, if it is a gift, the gift recipient’s name).


Availability: At the present time the set is only available for shipment within Canada. All shipment will be done via UPS Courier Service. We welcome inquiries from the USA and overseas. Write to us at simergbooks@aol.comor call us at 1-416-446-0293 (no texting), or text to 1-613-799-5663.

Price: The purchase price of the two-framed set is US $960.00 or C $1250.00 (including packaging, shipping, insurance and taxes).

NOTE: If frames are picked up from our locations in Toronto or Ottawa, deduct above cost by US $100.00 OR C $130.00.

Paypal: Simerg is Paypal verified. To purchase the numbered set, please send a request to and a Paypal invoice will be generated provided we still have the numbered set in stock. In view of this being a limited and numbered set, payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

Email Transfer: To purchase the set, please send a request to Once we have confirmed that a numbered set is available, we will generate an invoice and request you to submit a payment via email transfer. In view of this being a limited and numbered set, payment should then be received via email transfer within 24 hours after the invoice.

Cheque Payments: We will also accept bank draft, postal order or certified cheque payments.

Delivery Method: The order will be processed upon receipt of payment and the CUSTOM MADE set will be shipped after the order within 4-6 weeks to a Canadian address by UPS land courier (allow 2-7 days for delivery from date of shipment).

Questions: Please write to us at or call us at 1-416-446-0293 (no texting), or text to 1-613-799-5663.


Over the years, Simerg, has offered numerous collection items including signed copies of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s “Animal Voyage” and “Diving Into Wildlife,” the award winning Central Asian book “With Our Own Hands” as well as limited edition framed sets of Golden Jubilee Stamps. We have attained a high degree and level of customer satisfaction. Here are comments from some of our past customers:

“My son was delighted with the excellent photography by Prince Hussain. We as a family will cherish this volume for a long time. Once again, thank you Simerg for making this book available in North America and your outstanding customer service and support.” Shamim Rajan, Richmond Hill, Ontario

“This is a beautiful piece of work!! The service was excellent. Very quick, safe and efficient turnaround and follow up. I recommend everyone to have a copy.” Nazir Alibhai, Markham, Ontario

“Thank you so much for the shipment – I received it today! I am impressed at how quickly the transaction went from the time of my order to the delivery. Great job!!” Zarah K.

This truly historical and enduring 2-piece numbered framed set will be in your family for many many generations to come.  

We thank you for visiting Simerg’s sister website Barakah (which is dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan). Simerg looks forward to serving our readers with the same level of customer satisfaction as before.

Date posted: January 3, 2019.


Mawlana Hazar Imam announces engagement of Prince Hussain Aga Khan to Miss Elizabeth Hoag


In a message to the Jamat of Pakistan dated December 17, 2018, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, has announced the engagement of his son, Prince Hussain, to Miss Elizabeth Hoag, who has adopted the name Fareen upon embracing Islam.

Fareen is a Persian name for girls that means “blessed”, “fortunate”, “great”, or “glorious”. 

In his message, Mawlana Hazar Imam has indicated that Prince Hussain and Fareen will be married in the spring of 2019.

Prince Hussain Aga Khan, like his sister Prince Zahra and brothers Prince Rahim and Prince Aly Muhammad, is well known for his work with the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat. Prince Hussain works with Mawlana Hazar Imam concentrating on cultural and environmental issues as well as Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat.

shireen_nazim_nf_arrival_july_9_-9658_Prince Rahim and Prince Irfan at Prince Hussain's exhibition

Prince Rahim shows his son Prince Irfan a photograph taken by his brother Prince Hussain (pictured at top of page) at the Nature Photographic Exhibition in Lisbon during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in July 2018. Photo: The Ismaili/Shireen Nazim

Unknown to many is Prince Hussain’s deep passion and love for animals that started during his childhood. In Lisbon, Portugal, during the Diamond Jubilee Festivities last July, the Prince’s photo exhibition of sea animal photos attracted a lot of attention. The young and old, lingered and languished in the exhibition, letting Prince Hussain’s images captivate their imagination and permeate their sense of wonder. They came away from the exhibition, thoroughly awestruck.

Prince Hussain is also the founder of Focused on Nature, an organization which aims to help projects related to species conservation and slow habitat loss. His magnificent photo book “Diving Into Wildlife” can be purchased on Simerg. 

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s message states that Miss Elizabeth Hoag holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counselling specializing in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Social Anxiety. 

Mawlana Hazar Imam concludes by mentioning that Prince Hussain’s engagement to Elizbeth has brought great joy to his family, and that he is sure that the Jamat would also rejoice on this happy news with him. 

We are particularly happy at this special moment in the life of Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family, and offer our heartfelt congratulations to our beloved Prince Hussain and Miss Elizabeth Hoag on their engagement. We look forward to their auspicious wedding in spring.

Date posted: December 21, 2018.

This website has an excellent array of thoughtful articles and beautiful photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Do not leave this website before checking out Barakah’s Table of Contents.


See photo of Miss Elizabeth Hoag with Prince Hussain’s mother, Princess Salimah, at

See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


On the Auspicious Occasion of Our Beloved Mawlana Shah Karim’s 82nd Birthday: Our Hearts at Your Feet



Under Your guidance
we are emboldened;
little birds taking first flight
towards the Light —
Your pearls of wisdom
lighting the runways towards
the esoteric Gnosis.
From Your encouragement
we glean the courage to
navigate the rough seas of duniya.

Under Your preservation
we are cocooned in culture,
thus develop into diverse plurality —
a myriad of butterflies aflight and free
in Your world of hope, love and goodwill.
Your Farmans have us ensconced in ethics —
beacons in the bay blinking caution,
that we may be safe from pitfalls and traps;
we cling to the rope of Your grace
and keep afloat on the buoyancy of Your affection.

Under Your omniscience
how fortunate and blessed we are —
chosen to be amongst Your flock,
nurtured in care and concern we are;
indebtedness we display in our thoughts, our actions,
but on an auspicious day like today —
On this occasion of Salgirah, what pearls,
diamonds, gold, arts and riches will suffice?
Before You we place our hearts and intention:
Epitome of Virtue, Paragon of Principle,
Beloved Hazar Imam,
we aspire to make You proud,
to celebrate Your ineffability
and fulfill the dreams You have for us.
Indeed You never ask of anything for Yourself,
any gift will fall short of its meaningfulness,
yet, permit us to present humbly
our allegiance and loyalty, our hearts and servitude
at Your divine feet.

Date posted: December 12, 2018.


Zafeera KassamZafeera Kassam is a high-school teacher of English Language, Literature and Psychology, residing in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her free time in creative writing and poetry, and has had her short stories and poems published in various media around the world. As a devotee of Mowlana Hazar Imam, her greatest joy is in penning verse and poems in praise of Hazar Imam. Her latest publication, Always and Forever, is a book of 60 poems dedicated especially to Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee (available on Amazon Kindle). She is also an amateur photographer who takes great interest in capturing nature. Currently, she is concentrating on developing her skills in graphic design and digital imagery. Most of all, she hopes to be continuously inspired to keep penning poems in praise of beloved Hazar Imam.

Zafeera contributed stirring narratives of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee Darbars held in Kenya and Portugal. One can read them over and over again and never have enough! Please read (or re-read) the accounts at:


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Flashback 1978: Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic first visit to Canada included a cake cutting ceremony to celebrate his 42nd birthday


[As Ismaili Jamats around the world prepare to celebrate the 82nd birthday of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on December 13, 2018, we bring you the following highlights and photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic first visit to Canada in 1978. The timeline has been prepared from an extensive essay on the visit by the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) which appeared in Ilm, volume 5 number 1, July 1979, a flagship magazine that the long serving Ismaili missionary edited during his tenure with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for the UK. The photos accompanying the post as well as excerpts from numerous speeches that were made during the historic visit were submitted to us by Alwaez Merchant’s long time Dar es Salaam friend and colleague Kamrudin Rashid, who now lives in Toronto. Mr Rashid acquired the speeches from Ismaili periodicals. We thank Mr. Rashid for preserving the photos and magazines over the past forty years].

The earliest recorded settlement of Ismailis in Canada goes back to the 1950’s with the arrival of Mustansir Ismaily from Pakistan. Over the years, Ismaili students came to pursue higher education in universities across the country. The earliest large scale settlement by Ismailis began with the arrival of hundreds of Tanzanian Ismailis following the nationalization of houses and other properties by the Tanzanian Government in early 1971. Thanks to Tanzanian Ismailis, who settled mainly in Vancouver and Toronto, the ground work for future migration was laid. The Tanzanians were instrumental in the establishment of rudimentary community institutions at that time. The expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin’s decree of 1972 occurred more than a year later. It led to the settlement of thousands of Ugandan Ismailis in Canada beginning in late 1972. Today, Canada is home to more than 100,000 Ismailis from all over the world. 

scan0686_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives for his historic first visit to Canada in November 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

When the Jamat settled in Canada in large numbers, they began supplicating from the innermost recesses of their hearts for Mawlana Hazar Imam to visit Canada and bless the Jamats with his Didar. The Jamat’s call was answered on November 12, 1978 when Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini arrived in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, with Begum Salimah to begin a memorable and historical 10 day visit.



scan0703_HHAga Khan_Canada_1979

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah are received by Canada’s Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau (1919-2000) in Ottawa on November 12, 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

  • November 12, 1978: Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini arrives in  Ottawa, Canada’s capital, with  Begum Salimah.
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam meets with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Allan Gotlier (Under Secretary of the State for External Affairs), Michel Dupuy (President of the Canadian International Development Agency) and other Government Officials.
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam gives an interview to the Global Television Network. He says that he has requested the Prime Minister and Federal Officials to step up Canada’s aid programme to the poorer countries as they were already having a major positive impact. He praises Canada’s existing aid programs and says that “Canada has one of the most practical and best founded foreign aid development programmes I know of.” He adds that Ottawa is using its $1.1 billion aid budget sensibly, rather than producing wagon loads of paper.
  • Asked whether his wealth is a handicap in convincing people in poor countries that he really wants to help them, Mawlana Hazar Imam responds by saying, “The  West tends to look at the individual – the Aga Khan – and not the institution he represents – the Ismaili Imamate. In a sense you could turn around and say the Vatican is very wealthy. That does not mean that the Vatican  misuses its wealth or does not do the work it should do. In my case, I think the Ismaili Imamate is very active in economic and social development.”
  • On Monday November 13, 1978, in an interview with Norm Perry of the CTV Network in Ottawa, Mawlana Hazar Imam responds to the war against modern industrialization in an Islamic country, with the following remark: “I think the main issue really is, how the mullahs, or like myself, the Imam, view the compatibility of Islam with the modern world. And, as far as my family is concerned, my community is concerned, we don’t run away from that. We are not prepared to say that there is a basic conflict between the modern world and our practice of Islam.”
scan0696_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat during the mulaqat at the  Toronto International Centre in November 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

  • Later in the same interview, Norm Perry asked Mawlana  Hazar Imam, “You are a man with a background in the East, and you were educated in the West. You speak like a Westerner, and if you forgive me, you look like a Westerner. Is there not a contradiction between what you represent,  who you are as a Spiritual Leader, and the lifestyle you live?” Mawlana Hazar Imam’s response was: “No, I see no contradiction whatsoever. I think you have to be  very careful not to apply to Islam, what  I would  call  Western  terminology. You are accustomed in the West to seeing ‘the man of the Church’, so to speak, and men who are living everyday lives. In Islam, that isn’t  the case at all. The Prophet was married, was a businessman, and had ongoing business activities, led armies, and yet, that did not stop the Prophet from being the Prophet, from  leading the prayers, and I think that one has to really correct that image, or that understanding, because it is a misunderstanding in the West. In a sense what you are saying is that the modern world cannot live at peace with a faith.”
  • When asked if there was any problem in getting Ismailis into Canada and what he had learnt about his people who have settled here, Mawlana Hazar Imam answered, “Well, you know that the Canadian Government extended a level of co-operation, understanding and help that was absolutely remarkable.” With regard to the Jamat, he observed, “Firstly, that they are a changed community psychologically, which is understandable, but very palpable, I would say if I can use that word. There is a sense of peace and equanimity which is really very visible. There is a sense of challenge; it’s a new country that they are getting to learn about and one they are very attached to. They view Canada as a country with great prospects, completely different from what they have known up to now. So it’s very exciting.”
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam grants his first mulaqat of the Canadian visit in Ottawa to a gathering of approximately 800 Ismailis. He is accompanied by Begum Salimah, who stays for 20 minutes. Mawlana Hazar Imam then performs Jamati work.
  • During the visit to Ottawa, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah were the guests of the Prime Minister and stayed at his private country residence at Harrington. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s younger sister, Princess Yasmin, had also come from the USA to visit them.

2. NOVEMBER 13 – 16, 1978,VANCOUVER

  • Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah fly 2500 miles to Vancouver. Total number of Ismailis for the mulaqat numbered approximately 9,500 with almost 1,500 coming from the USA.
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam meets the Vancouver Jamat on November 14th, 15th and 16th. In his Farman, Mowlana Hazar Imam advises the Jamat to make Canada their permanent home, maintain unity within the Jamat and be regular in the practice of their faith. He expresses his appreciation for the wonderful organisation and the work that had been done in preparation for his visit. He gave his special blessings to all the workers and volunteers for their devoted services. As in the past, Mawlana  Hazar Imam  advised  the  Ismaili  youth  to  avoid the pressures of social evils of smoking, drinking and drugs which limit the mental and physical abilities.
  • In a special separate mulaqat with the student Jamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam enumerated a number of professions which would stand them in good stead in Canada and elsewhere. He listed professions such as agriculture, Islamic studies, medicine, nursing, teaching and tourism. His very young spiritual children were not forgotten either as there was some advice for them to be regular at school and not to look for excuses to remain absent. He also expressed his immense happiness for the praise lavished upon his Jamat by the Government Officials.
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam approved the building of a new Jamatkhana in Burnaby and said that he would be there to open it (the high profile Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana was opened in 1985 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam).
scan0700_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat during the mulaqat at the  Toronto International Centre in November 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

  • The Ismaili Councils hosted a banquet in honour of Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah. It was attended by the Mayor, High Government Officials and other dignitaries. Prime Minister Trudeau sent a message of sincere regret explaining that he had to  attend  the  Parliamentary session being held then.
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam took this opportunity to again praise the welcome Canadians had offered to the Ismailis, who were forced to flee Uganda in 1972. He said: “It was Canada which opened her arms, and none of us will forget that gesture of spontaneous good will. All of us are determined to repay the kindness.”
  • Begum Salimah visited the Vancouver General Hospital, accompanied by Late Dr. William Storrer, the then medical advisor to the Aga Khan Foundation in Switzerland. Begum Salimah toured the Obstetrics Department and Intensive Care Nursery. Seven year  old  Isabella Sammarco very graciously presented a bouquet to the Begum at  the Health Centre for Children. The Begum showed great interest in medical care for expectant mothers and children, and  told the press that some of the latest techniques and treatments she saw there might be useful for the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, which was then under construction.


From the 16th to 19th November, Mawlana Hazar Imam accompanied by Begum Salimah visited the Jamats in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal. The Jamats of all these cities greeted their beloved Imam with intense spiritual enthusiasm. Knowing  that their Aqa (Lord) would only be amongst them for a very short time, they had prepared themselves to derive the maximum from his visit. They drank unceasingly from the ocean of his Noorani Didar and drenched their souls under the showers of his warm and loving blessings.

4. NOVEMBER 19 – 22, 1978, TORONTO

scan0687_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam accompanied by Begum Salimah, arrives for historic first visit to Canada in November 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

  • The last stop was Toronto, where over 16,000 Ismailis had gathered to be blessed. Mawlana Hazar Imam with Begum Salimah arrived in Toronto on 19th November. The Jamat gathered at the International Centre for their mulaqats with Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah. This was the largest gathering which Hazar Imam encountered during the Canadian visit and he expressed his joy at seeing so many of his spiritual children there. During the three days, Mawlana Hazar Imam stayed with the Jamat for many hours including late into the night, to accept and perform services, make Farmans and to bless the Jamat. He would often address the Jamat as ‘My International Jamat’.
  • Mawlana Hazar Imam continued to advise the Jamat to make Canada their permanent home and contribute towards its progress.
  • He also expressed the hope that the educated youths from this part of the world would come forward to give the benefit of their knowledge and experience to the Jamats in developing countries. He also urged that they should seek excellence in their studies and that it was not sufficient to go through their education career with a D+ or C- average. 
scan0702_HHAga Khan_Canada_1979

Mawlana Hazar Imam celebrates his 42nd birthday on November 21, 1978, by cutting a cake in front of a very large Jamat gathered at the International Centre in Toronto. The featured photo at top of page shows him surrounded by Ismaili leaders including the Late Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai, Late Vazir Zeenat Virani, Late President Mohamedali Lalani, Aitmadi Nyaz Jethwani,  Mukhi Aitmadi Barkat Ali, Mukhiani Aitmadi Banoo Barkat Ali, Kamadia Sadruddin Dossani, Aitmadi Nizar Alibhai and others. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

  • He advised the Jamat to be regular in Jamatkhana attendance and said that the young in the Jamat should understand the meaning of the Dua when they learn and recite it.
  • On the evening of November 21, Mawlana Hazar Imam with much happiness accepted the invitation to celebrate his birthday and cut a cake. Mawlana Hazar Imam termed the event as his official birthday and mentioned that this was probably the second or at the most the third time that he had spent “my official birthday with my Jamat in any part of the world.” He said he was cutting the cake with immense happiness because of the happiness that the Jamat in Canada had given him during the visit. 
  • In a truly loving reference to all his spiritual children of all age groups who were present to witness the cake cutting ceremony, Malwana Hazar Imam said, “I would like to remind you on this occasion − from my nursery school children to my primary school children, to my secondary school children, to my university undergraduates, to my post graduates, to my middle aged, to my elders and to my very very senior citizens − that above all else, they should remember that they must remain united, regular in their religious duties, and that you are always in my heart, in my thoughts and in my prayers. Khanavadan, Khanavadan, Khanavadan.” 
scan0697_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam in ceremonial white robe and chain giving Farman Mubarak at the International Centre in Toronto during his first historic visit to Canada in November 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

  • Her Highness Begum Salimah attended separate public functions while Mawlana Hazar Imam conducted religious ceremonies. Her visit to the Overlea Secondary School received extensive coverage in various newspapers. Writing for “The Mirror” Valerie Dunn said, “The Begum reflected the Aga Khan’s deep interest in education by stressing its importance in the development of any society and urged Ismaili students to make the most of the opportunities available to them in Canada.”
  • In welcoming the Begum, Alnoor Dhanani explained that the bouquet presented by Rozmin Mangalji included flowers from the five continents.
  • An Eskimo carving, a uniquely Canadian gift, was given on behalf of Ismaili students. Afterwards, the Begum chatted informally with groups of awe­ stricken students and then proceeded to tour Overlea itself. This was the Begum’s first visit  to a Canadian school. She was fascinated, especially, by the open classrooms and informal atmosphere.
  • Begum Salimah also visited Toronto General Hospital’s paralysis unit where she had a chat with Lilly Ramji and her son Alnoor, who was paralysed in a car accident two months earlier in September 1978. 
  • Reporting on the banquet hosted by Ismaili Councils at the Harbour Castle Hilton Hotel, in honour of Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah, Stef Donev of “Toronto Star” wrote, “Just as there is only one Pope, there is only one Aga Khan. He is Imam − spiritual leader − to the world’s 15 million Moslems” .
  • The banquet was attended by Cabinet Ministers, bankers, businessmen and the media (see speech excerpts, below).
  • Expressing his deep, lasting debt to Canada for accepting Ugandan refugees brutally expelled by Idi Amin in 1972, Mawlana  Hazar Imam said, “Canada was one of the first to recognise the human tragedy this represented.”
  • For three days, Toronto Ismailis put their daily routine aside to be with their Imam. Those who had to, took holidays from work to be in Mawla’s Holy presence. The volunteers helped organise dinners and laid out 80,000 square feet of red carpet from a factory outlet to the International Centre.
  • As Mawlana Hazar Imam gave his last Mulaqat on this visit to Canada, his spiritual children beseeched him sincerely, Vela te karajo Mowla, avanaji. O Mowla! (We beg of you), please make your coming soon.


scan0691_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam arriving at the banquet in Toronto with the Lt. Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Pauline Mills McGibbon. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

1. Address by the Hon. Norman Cafik, Minister of State for Multiculturalism

“Before I make a few remarks I would like to read to you a letter that the Prime Minister of Canada handed to me two days ago to be read here tonight in honour of this occasion.

“I am most pleased to convey my warmest greetings to all those attending the banquet in honour or His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan The Fourth and Her Highness Begum Salimah. If Canada is to be thanked tonight by the Ugandans I am certain that this gratitude is reciprocal − for the members of the Ismaili sect of the Muslim religion have greatly contributed to the cultural richness of our society. Therefore, I would like to join in the homage paid to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan The Fourth and Her Highness Begum Salimah and extend to all present my very warmest personal good wishes for a most memorable visit and evening. The Prime Minister of Canada. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.”

“It is my understanding that part of this evening’s celebration is to pay tribute to Canada and to Canadians because we in this country in 1972 received into Canada about 6,000 people from Uganda of Ismaili background after they had been very cruelly expelled from their former homeland by Idi Amin.

“We in Canada appreciate the gesture of gratitude that is being expressed tonight. But a simple fact of the matter is that gratitude is a two-way street. The 6,000 who came to Canada then contributed a great deal more than they ever received. On behalf of the Government and on behalf of all Canadians I want to really thank this community for all that they have done for this country. Indeed they have shared with us their culture, their background, their richness. their traditions, and they have enriched and benefited all of us as Canadians.

Speech continues after photo

scan0692_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

At the banquet hosted by the Ismaili Council. From left: Honourable Pauline Mills McGibbon, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah and Hon. Norman Cafik. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

“Secondly, I wish to thank His Highness the Aga Khan who has contributed a great deal to allowing these 6,000 people who are now Canadians to integrate into our society as quickly as they did. There is no doubt that the efforts that he and his organizations have made here in Canada to provide financial backing and resources to so many who came to a foreign and strange land to help them integrate and become full and proper Canadians along with the rest of us. His work has made their entrance into Canada so much easier and so much better and I want to thank him on behalf of the community in Canada and on behalf of all Canadians.

“I want to thank him further for the example of his words to those of the community in Canada when he said to them and to others who live in other lands and in other nations that they may hold onto their traditions and their values and their cultures but they must be first and foremost citizens of their new adopted land.

“Now I want to say in conclusion that your presence in Canada comes at a time of great change, a time of renewal, a time of national reflection, and a time when we as Canadians have got to learn to put our lofty principles into practice, into the practice of tolerance and human understanding between all of our people. It is a great challenge and I think that the lessons that you have learned in other countries before coming here are lessons that we ourselves can learn from. We look forward to you sharing with us those messages, and that lesson of understanding and to share it with all of us so that we may learn from your misfortunes in the past and be richer as a people and more united as a consequence. I want to thank all of you for making this your new home and to say that we are as proud to have you here as you are to be here. Thank you very much.”

2. Address by the Hon. Tom Wells Ontario Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs

Your Highness. I want to welcome you to this province. You’ll have an opportunity to meet our Premier Bill Davis tomorrow and he is looking forward to meeting you, because you are a world figure who has contributed much in your humanity and in your concern to affairs throughout the world. We would like to tell you that in this province we feel we are very fortunate that many, many people from many varied cultural backgrounds have come here and, they become citizens of this country and of this province, that they have kept those traditions, and those things that they brought with them, and have in doing enriched our multicultural heritage. We were very proud, and I was very proud, I want to say this as a Canadian. I was very proud that the federal government in 1972 quickly acted to make room in Canada for the Ismaili Muslims who were being ejected from Uganda. I was very happy that many of them have come to the province of Ontario. The contribution that they have made to the industrial and commercial life of this province has been significant.

3. Address by Mr. Mohamedali Lalani, President of The Regional Council of Canada

We, as a community greatly value the spirit of self-help, self-discipline and efficient organization. The history of Ismaili settlement in Canada takes me back in 1972 when the Ismailis started to arrive here in significant numbers. I can recall with deep gratitude the welcome extended by Canada to the members of our community. Not many of us had been exposed to the North American environment, however, we had brought with us three things − the willingness to adapt and integrate, the willingness to work hard, and the desire to fully identify ourselves with Canadians and to make Canada our home. With willing help and assistance from the various government departments and agencies and through the communal institutions especially created by His Highness, Ismailis became self-supporting and reasonably well settled in a very short time.

“His Highness the Aga Khan has always emphasized to his followers to maintain absolute loyalty to the country of their adoption and to identify completely with the national aspirations and policies of the countries in which they reside.

“Islam maintains that material progress without spiritual well-being is meaningless. It is the spiritual life that is eternal and therefore, much more significant.

“The Imam, as our spiritual leader, devotes a great deal of his time in guiding his followers towards spiritual well-being. His Highness has placed much emphasis on progressive spiritual advancement through self-discipline as on material progress through purposeful and responsible action.

“The Ismailis are extremely fortunate in having the Imam of the Time to guide them, to help them in both worldly and spiritual matters and help them remain a strong and united community. In Canada, our settlement has been a fairly recent one. We hope, however, that under your guidance, Your Highness, the Canadian Ismailis will develop deep roots in Canada and will become known as a progressive, civic-minded community that has a true loyalty to their new country of adoption.

“Finally, on behalf of all the Councils and the community, I wish to express our very deep gratitude to your Highnesses for visiting us in Canada and we sincerely hope that it will not be too long before we will have the privilege of welcoming you again with the entire family. To Your Excellencies, Your Grace, Your Honours, Your Worships and all distinguished guests here tonight, we wish to extend our very deep gratitude for accepting our invitation to this banquet and for honouring us by your presence. Thank you.”

4. Address by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

scan0690_HHAga Khan_Canada_1978

Mawlana Hazar Imam delivering his address at a banquet held in Toronto in November 1978. Photo: Kamrudin Rashid Collection.

“Your Excellencies, Your Honours, Your Grace, Chief Rabbi, Honourable Ministers, Your Worship, Ladies and Gentlemen:

“I would like to begin by thanking the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario for the extremely kind messages which they sent this evening. And to thank also the Honourable Lt. Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Minister for Multiculturalism, the Honourable Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and His Worship, the Mayor of Toronto for their very generous and their very kind words about the Ismaili Community and about my wife and myself.

“For my wife and me, this has been a very memorable evening as well as a most moving one. We are almost at the end of our tour of your country which has taken us from coast to coast and back again. We have been greeted everywhere with immense kindness and warmth by your government and your civic leaders. This has been our first extensive visit to Canada and we have enjoyed the experience immensely and We express to you this evening our deep thanks.

“The tributes which have been paid to the Ismaili Community this evening have been generous indeed and I am extremely happy to know how well the Ismailis are regarded and how quickly they have established themselves as good citizens of your country.

“You have heard from the first speaker tonight that we take pride in being an organized community. This characteristic has served us well in Canada, where the great majority living here today arrived just six years ago having been expelled from Uganda almost overnight by President Idi Amin.

Most Ismailis came here stateless, destitute and almost literally with only the clothes they stood up in. Canada was the first of several countries to recognize this as the immense human tragedy it actually represented.

“Spontaneously, you opened up your arms to our people, you welcomed them and made it possible for them to start a new life in a new world. It was a gesture we shall never forget. We are not a large community, but in the six years since the Ismailis left their country on the other side of the world, with a totally different social and economic environment, they have adjusted themselves to new customs, new laws, new institutions and a new way of life. They have done this in the best of our traditions of self-reliance, free enterprise and good citizenship.

“Equally important, I think, we are fortunate in that the majority of immigrants were well-equipped both physically and intellectually for such a sudden transformation. In Uganda, as in Pakistan, India and elsewhere our schools fortunately, were among the best.

“Many of our boys and girls who attended our schools in Uganda also went on to leading universities and colleges in Europe and North America. They arrived here, therefore, with skills to offer. And today you will find them in a wide range of businesses and professional activities. There are doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, engineers, insurance brokers, pharmacists and nurses. Many more have started their own businesses on their own account.

“Not all Ismailis who came to Canada were university graduates. Some of our older people and others who were less well-educated, had a much more difficult period of adjustment. Here again however, the specialized facilities which Canada was able to offer us, through private as well as official channels, married well with our own internal community programs from which we have gained experience from other parts of the world. Without the active participation and encouragement of our Canadian friends, however, we could never have achieved so much in such a short time.

“Under our own lending programs, for example, and with the ready and good assistance of two of your leading banks the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, special loan facilities have been organized for small businesses. Nearly a thousand of these have been started and the failure rate is less than 10%. I believe this compares quite favourably with the national average.

“I am happy and honoured to see among our many distinguished guests this evening, a number of representatives from African and Asian countries. I travel a good deal and often visit different parts of Africa and the Indian sub-continent. Your Excellencies, I feel sure, will agree with me that Canada is regarded very highly by the developing world.

“She is welcomed diplomatically everywhere in the world and her influence extends far beyond her natural size and wealth. The foreign aid administered by the Canadian International Development Agency illustrates very well what I mean. Canada is not among the largest international donors, but her programs are extremely well administered and reach the ordinary people whom they are intended to benefit. That is a rare accomplishment today. Foreign aid is but one facet of Canada as an international power who takes her responsibilities seriously and whose policies have never in her history been tainted by the cruder forms of colonialism, racialism or isolationism. I believe it is this great tradition, more than any other, which prompted your country to help my people in their hour of need.

“On behalf of my wife, my family and the Ismailis all over the world, I thank you from my heart. Thank you.”

Date posted: December 11, 2018.


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

4 rare photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to Dar es Salaam’s Aga Khan Boys Secondary School


This collection of 4 rare pictures from Dar es Salaam was shared with me by (Alwaez) Ali Rajabali during my visit to Vancouver. They should be of immense interest to students who are in the photos, especially the first group photo featured at the top of this page in which they are pictured with their class teachers and members of the Aga Khan Education Board.

I believe there are countless of rare photos in family albums that have been stowed away for decades. Please take the time to search your archives and share historical photos and documents with Jamati members around the world through this blog, Barakah, or its sister blogs Simerg and Simergphotos. We will be honoured to receive and publish your photos.

Assign your children or grandchildren the noble task of seeking out important historical pictures from your archives and, if need be, reward them for their efforts – it is a tedious task. If this is not done, an important historical moment that may appear insignificant to the owner of the picture may be lost forever! Let’s keep our history alive for generations to come by seeking out photos of our beloved Imams from our archives and getting them digitized.

Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 03

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver


Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 04

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver.


Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 01

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver.


Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 02

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver. 

Date posted: November 2, 2018

Note: This post is duplicated on the sister website,

See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

The Ismaili community’s dynamic 48th Imam: A very brief portrait of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah

[The following is an adapted and abbreviated version of Bashir Ladha’s extensive piece on His Highness the Aga Khan III which was first published on the occasion of his birth centenary in November 1977 in a special commemorative issue of Ilm magazine, Ismailia Association, U.K.  – ed.]


This thoughtful study of the late Aga Khan, 48th Imam of Shia Imami Ismailis, was done in clay by his wife, the Begum Aga Khan, Om Habiba. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


His Highness the Aga Khan III, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, was born on Friday, 2nd November, 1877 at “Honeymoon Lodge” in Karachi. His birth was an occasion of immense joy for the family and particularly his grandfather, Hazrat Imam Hassanali Shah, Aga Khan I, who named him “Sultan Mahomed.”

The young Aga Khan did not attend any public school, but his early education at home was intense. The scope of the curriculum set by his tutors and his far-seeing mother, Lady Ali Shah, covered Urdu, Persian, Arabic, English, French, Mathematics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Mechanics. He showed remarkable aptitude for learning. His natural intellect and interest also helped him to make remarkable progress in Western literature as well as in the study of the history of the ancient and modern worlds. He also acquired proficiency in philosophy and theology.

Recalling his course of studies, the Aga Khan wrote:

“I had already been grounded in Arabic and Persian literature and history, and first inspired thereto in childhood, to this day I take a special interest in historical studies connected with the early Caliphs. Under my English tutors, I gained an attachment, which also remains with me, to the writings of the more stirring and eloquent of the English historians and of the foremost novelists—particularly Gibbon, Thackeray and Dickens.”


September 1, 1885: The 7-year-old Aga Khan III at his enthronement ceremony as 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Ismaili Muslims in Bombay. He is surrounded by community elders. Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Copyright.

When Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah succeeded his father Mawlana Aly Shah as the 48th Imam of Ismaili Muslims on 17th August, 1885, he was only in his eighth year but even at this tender age he administered the affairs of his followers with a maturity of wisdom which was very surprising.

Long before he had reached the age of fifteen, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah proved himself an able administrator of the affairs of his vast following. He visited the Jamats and resolved disputes with a legal acumen seldom found in those who are not lawyers. He worked incessantly for the benefit of his followers and not being content to lead the Ismailis in religious matters, he strove hard for their moral and material welfare with the result that, in the course of only a few decades, the Ismailis earned a reputation of being a progressive and forward looking community.


Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, photographed in 1911, Copyright: National Portrait Gallery

Though his range of reading was wide, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s impressions of men and things were practical and not theoretical. His judgements were based not upon what he had read but upon what he had seen and heard. Lloyd George (Prime Minister of Great Britain during early 1920s) said of him:

“He is one of the best informed men I have ever met. His general information is astonishing. He is extraordinarily well read and possesses an intimate knowledge of international affairs in all parts of the world. He is widely travelled and is always moving round the capitals of Europe, in all of which he has influential intimates. His means of securing information were remarkable. He seemed to have touched upon all branches of literature and to be well versed in science. Altogether a very extraordinary person.”


Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, 48th Imam of Shia Imami Ismailis, in full regalia. Photo: Jehangir Merchant archives

Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah never tolerated anything that was detrimental to Islam and therefore he would not hesitate in the least to make his views known publicly. Islam was always foremost in his heart and he would always appeal to the Muslims in a beseeching and affectionate manner:

“My fellow-Muslims, I implore you, I beg of you, to work for the advancement of the whole of Islam, but never forget our intellectual debt to our Holy Prophet.”

Generally, very little heed was paid by the Muslims to Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah’s guidance and therefore, lamenting over this attitude, Qayyum A. Malick wrote in his book Guide, Philosopher and Friend of the World of Islam:

“Had world Muslims kept pace with the progressive views of Prince Aga Khan and had they showed some encouraging consciousness and appreciation of his leadership, the seeds of moral and material uplift sown by him almost half a century ago would have been bearing abundant fruit today. If the Muslims had thrown up a small body of trustworthy men, capable of working in unison according to a set program of general advancement under the leadership of His Royal Highness there should have been no occasion to bemoan our backwardness now.”

For the Ismailis, the period of his Imamat was an era which ushered in a complete transformation. A community hitherto unknown in any field, progressed rapidly to great heights within a matter of a few decades. What happened to Ismaili Community during his Imamat is nothing less than a miracle.

In his role as the 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, set about to advance and consolidate the position of Ismailis at all levels. Under his guidance, a great spirit of social service, philanthropy and love for one another became a notable feature of the community. This attitude of mutual help among themselves and the smooth working of the welfare state created by the Imam won unmistakeable admiration of the leaders of other communities. Mahatma Gandhi once observed to Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah:

“I have been striving for so many years for the attainment of Swaraj (independence), but you have already brought the blessings of Swaraj to your people.”

While the Imam created numerous institutions to advance and consolidate education, health and general state of happiness and well being among his follower, he upheld a high mark of abiding values. True to the traditional and historically acknowledged trait of his Holy House, he put the spiritual goal as the prime and foremost essential of human life.


1923-08-05-invitiation-with-aga khan-quatrain verses

The top portion of the image, above the English translation, is a unique 1923 Gujarati invitation to a talk on Imamat. It includes a Persian quatrain on the top line. The quatrain had been handwritten by Aga Khan III in a personal diary belonging to Vazir Mecklai. Note: The English translation of the quatrain is not part of the invitation. Photo: A.M. Sadaruddin family collection of Africa Ismaili.

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s advice on religious matters to his followers were extensive and elaborate. He touched on many themes during his seventy two years of Imamat including theology, spirituality, Imamat and ethics. Some of his messages to the Ismailis were:

“Qur’an was basic. Pir Sadardin [an Ismaili missionary] had come to their ancestors to lead them to the true faith. It was essential to have strong faith in the descendants of Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali. If the faithful had love for the descendants of Ali, they had nothing to fear, and therein lay the whole mystery of faith. True faith was founded upon love and reason.”

“The faithful should come and pray in the Jamatkhana. Prayers must be said with understanding. Pray for others as this brings one nearer to God. By prayer one rises to a higher plane. If the faithful was far from Jamatkhana he should say his prayers wherever he was. Even if the body was unclean, prayers could not be missed. The soul was pure. Unity in the Jamat was important. All his murids were spiritual children of their Imam, who was their spiritual father and mother.”

“Harm done to another would cause immense pain to the Imam. Help each other. Serve the jamats. Service to jamats was service to their Imam. True mu’min (believer) was always happy and satisfied. True mu’min rejoiced at difficulties, for such sorrows and difficulties wiped away sins. True mu’min never feared death.

“That a true mu’min would always thirst for Imam’s Noorani Didar. True mu’min, after death, would earn salvation in Noor-e-Imamat.”


aga-khan-Golden Jubilee Casket by missionaries

March 1936: Photo taken in India on the occasion of the presentation of a casket by a group of Ismaili missionaries to Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah to mark the occasion of his Golden Jubilee. The Casket was created and donated by ‘Senior’ Missionary Alijah Moloobhai Allarakhia Jangbarwalla. Photographed by: Golden Art Studio; Photo: The Late Ameer Janmohamed Collection, London, UK.

During his long reign, the Ismailis celebrated his Golden (1936), Diamond (1946) and Platinum Jubilees (1954-56) as a symbolic affirmation of the spiritual ties that linked them with their beloved Imam. The Jubilee resulted in significant development for the Ismaili community. The greatest impact resulted from the proceeds that Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah gave back to the community from the Jubilee ceremonies of weighing him in gold, diamond and platinum. Numerous institutions for social and economic development were established, in the Imam’s words, “for the relief of humanity.”


A portrait of the Aga Khan Family of the mid 20th century: Next to the late 48th Ismaili Imam, Aga Khan III, is his grand daughter, Princess Yasmin. Standing from left to right – grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, his two sons the late Prince Sadruddin and Prince Aly Khan holding daughter, and second grandson Prince Karim, the present Imam. Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

Forty minutes past midday on 11th July, 1957 Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, passed away peacefully at his villa in Versoix, Switzerland, at the age of eighty leaving behind him a memorable history of his glorious and eventful life. His reign of seventy-two years of Imamat was the longest in Ismaili history.

The mantle of Imamat was transferred by Nass in the loving care of Mowlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan IV, by the following will:

“Ever since the time of my first ancestor Ali, the First Imam, that is to say over a period of thirteen hundred years it has always been the tradition of our family that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from amongst any of his descendants whether they be sons or remoter male issue.

“….I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my son Aly Salomone Khan to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to be the Imam and Pir of all my Shia Ismailian followers.”

The passing away of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah was a cause of great sorrow and sadness for Ismailis all over the world, but the Ismailis knew that the loving care and guidance of Noor-e-Ilahi would continue in Noor Mowlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, our beloved 49th Imam, who is now in his 62nd year of Imamat.

Upon succeeding, Mawlana Shah Karim Hazar Imam gave the following assurance:

“My grandfather dedicated his life to the Imamat and Islam, both of which came first, and above all other considerations. While I was prepared that one day I might be designated the Aga Khan I did not expect it so soon. I follow a great man in a great responsibility and he could have given me no more appreciated honour than to bequeath me this spiritual leadership. My life, as his, will be dedicated to the service of my followers.”

Date posted: November 2, 2018 (141st birth anniversary of Aga Khan III)


Bashir Fazal LadhaA graduate from the Institute of Ismaili Studie’s  first International Waezeen and Teachers Training Programme, Bashir Fazal Ladha has been with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for the UK since 1983 where he has contributed towards the religious education of the Jamat in numerous capacities – as waezeen, lecturer, and as a curriculum developer. In the literary sector, he contributed numerous articles to Ismaili literary magazines around the world, including UK ITREB’s defunct flagship magazine Ilm.

Alwaez Ladha aspires to write and publish works on Ismaili history and Ginanic literature. His other interests include reading, watching documentaries and listening to world music – from Bob Marley’s reggae songs to Indian classical music.


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Older Posts