Introduced by AZEEM MAHERALI
Today, June 13, 2018 marks the 107th birth anniversary of Prince Aly Solomone Khan, father of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, Prince Amyn and Princess Yasmin and brother of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
It was on this day in 1911 that Prince Aly Khan was born in Turin, Italy to Cleope Teresa Magliano and Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III.
Prince Aly Khan was educated by private tutors in France and undivided India during his childhood and later trained as a lawyer in England. A multi-linguist, he spoke perfect Oxford English, was fluent in French as well as in Arabic.
Prince Aly Khan traveled extensively with Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah to meet Ismailis in the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and East Africa and participated actively in the launch of many programs that targeted improving the quality of life of the Ismailis. Ismailis were always jubilant when Prince Alykhan and Prince Sadruddin were in their presence during the Jubilees of their father.
Prince Aly Khan’s adventurous spirit was reflected in his passion for racing horses, motor cars and planes in addition to his interest in yachting and skiing. As an amateur jockey he won several prestigious races at the Bar Steeplechase, Prix des Lions, French Amateur Derby, Le Trambley, Chantilly and Longchamp. He won Grand Prix races in France, Monaco and Italy. A man of exceptional stamina, in 1932 he flew from Bombay to Singapore via Karachi, Rangoon and Kuala Lumpur, at the time the longest ever civil flight.
During the second World War in pursuit of global peace and freedom he served with the British, French and American forces in Europe and the Middle East. A war hero and in recognition of his exceptional military services Prince Aly Khan was awarded two honors by the French Government – the Croix de Guerre (1939) and Legend of Honour (1950), and the United States Government awarded him the Bronze Star Medal for his bravery, heroic achievement and meritorious service in combat zones. In addition, Prince Aly Khan was invested as the 1st Colonel of the 4 Cavalry Regiment (1956).
Known for his cosmopolitan outlook and gift for international diplomacy, following the world war, Prince Aly Khan served as a member of the United Nations Political and Security Committee representing Pakistan as its permanent ambassador to the United Nations (UN) (1958). He was also appointed as the Vice-President of the UN General Assembly (1958) and served as Chairman of the UN’s Peace Observation Committee.
Prince Aly Khan passed away in a tragic car accident in Suresnes, near Paris, France on May 12th, 1960. He was first buried on the grounds of Château de l’Horizon, his home in the south of France, and 12 years later he was reinterred in Salamiyah, Syria – the place and people that he loved dearly.
Over the past 11 months since the commencement of his Diamond Jubilee, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, has continuously emphasized on unity within both the Jamat and families. His beloved late father considered unity as the greatest contribution that an Ismaili could make to his or her community. We pay our tribute to Prince Aly Khan by publishing an excerpt from his speech which appeared in The Ismaili (India), on February 2, 1941.
UNITY AND SELF-EFFACEMENT
“Unity and self-effacement are the greatest contributions we can make individually to the rest of the community.
“By self-effacement, I mean the forgetting of oneself sometimes and making one’s personal interests subservient to those of the largest number. If self-effacement is achieved, the foundation of unity will have been well and truly laid. For, at present, it is the consciousness of one’s self-importance and dignity which is making people forget their duties and responsibilities, and indulge in petty squabbles and bitter trivialities.
“The welfare of the Ismailis is so near and dear to my heart that I cannot light-heartedly bring myself to overlook the weak points of the community. It is by recognizing our own faults that we can hope to improve. Let us realize that in the matter of helping our brethren we have much to learn from our sister communities, and that if we ever hope to achieve what we have set out to, we must resolutely follow the principles of the faith, be guided by the lives of men like Hasan bin Sabah and Pir Sadar Din and concentrate on the two most important principles of life — namely, Unity and Service of the Imam-e-Zaman and Community.”
Date posted: June 13, 2018.
Last updated: June 14, 2018 (new photos added).
About the writer: Azeem Maherali, originally of Ottawa, Canada, is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.
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