A Memorable Collection of Historical Photos of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III

Prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor Simergphotos, Simerg and Barakah

[A version of this post post was originally published in Simergphotos on November 2, 2014 to mark the 137th birth anniversary of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III. We have updated the original post as we mark the 48th Imam’s 144th birth anniversary on November 2, 2021. Several additional photos that we have received over the years have been added to this new article in Barakah, a website dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family. The photos are not necessarily in a chronological sequence – Ed.]

Verily, God did choose Adam and Noah, the progeny of Abraham, and the progeny of Imran above all the worlds, descendants, one from the other: And God heareth and knoweth all things.” — The Holy Qur’an, 3:33-34

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September 1885: Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, at his enthronement ceremony as 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Ismaili Muslims in Bombay at the age of 7. Copyright. Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

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Aga Khan portrait paintings by Ismaili artist Azeez Khanbhai, Barakah exclusive
A painting of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, HIs Highness the Aga Khan III, by Ismaili artist Azeez Khanbhai. The painting was adapted from the lapis lazzuli work of the late Imam by famed Ismaili artist Gulgee of Pakistan. The lapis image appears in this post below. Photo: Azeez Khanbhai Collection.

The Memoirs of Aga Khan in Six European Languages

“I can only say to everyone who reads this book of mine that it is my profound conviction that man must never ignore and leave untended and undeveloped that spark of the Divine which is in him.” — Aga Khan III

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The Memoirs of Aga Khan: The autobiography of the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan, was first published in London in 1954 under the title, The Memoirs of Aga Khan: World Enough and Time. The Memoirs was originally published in English (the British and American editions being published in 1954), and while these English versions were circulated widely in the English-speaking world, a remarkable fact is that the 48th Imam’s autobiography was translated into several languages, both eastern and western. Besides translations into Gujarati, Sindhi and Urdu, The Memoirs was translated into six European languages, all of which were published during 1954 and 1955. An interesting feature is that many of the illustrations in these translations are different to those that appear in the English editions. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah as a young boy in the Spanish Edition of Memoirs of Aga Khan
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah pictured with his son, Prince Sadruddin, and grandsons Prince Karim (left) and Prince Amyn. This photo appears in various editions of the Memoirs.
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Portraits of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the German Edition of the Memoirs.
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 A portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Mata Salamat in the French Edition of the Memoirs.
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A photo of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Mata Salamat in Mashad, Iran, which appears in the Norwegian edition of the Memoirs.

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A thoughtful study of  Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah done in clay by his wife, the Begum Aga Khan, Omme Habibah. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
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Portrait of  Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, Elliott & Fry, Vintage Print. © National Portrait Gallery.
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A painting of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah in “Rahe Rast”, done by N.B. Dewji. Photo: Late Sadrudin Pirani Collection, Ottawa.
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August 10, 1921: Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah at Deauville, France. © Picture by: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images.
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Zanzibar 1905: Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah with Ismaili leaders. Photo: Nashir Abdulla Collection, Ottawa, Canada.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah by Elliott & Fry, half-plate negative, 1911. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah pictured in Rajkot, India, with the Ismaili leadership. Itmadi Kassam Kothari was the President of the Kathiawar Education Board and is shown seated to the Imam’s left. In suit and tie, to the Imam’s right, is the late Rai Pirbhai Rayani who later in life settled in Calgary, Canada. Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan, with Alibhai Velshi (left) and Ebrahim K.K. Khoja. Date and event photo taken unknown. Photo: Zulfikarali M.A. Velji Khoja Family Collection.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah admiring the Ismaili Jamatkhana (see next photo) in Lourenco Marques, his first stop before departing for South Africa. The visit took place in 1945.
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A 1945 photo of the old Lourenco Marques Jamatkhana which was described by Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah as being one of the finest in Africa. Both the interior and exterior underwent major changesduring the 1960’s..
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Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah’s 1946 message to South Africa published in the Souvenir, following his visit in 1945. Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.
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The Front Cover of the “The Aga Khan and Africa” Souvenir issue. Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.
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Photogravure illustrating the magnificent floral decorations and seating design at the reception given to Aga Khan III and the Begum Aga Khan by the Aga Khan’s Ismailia Provincial Council, Pretoria, on Thursday August 9th 1945
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Mawlana Sultan Mohamed Shah and the Begum Om Habibah Mata Salamat with a South African family visiting Paris.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah offering prayers at the Muslim League Function held in South Africa in 1945.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan, with Ebrahim K. K. Khoja and family. Date and event photo taken unknown. Photo: Zulfikarali M.A. Velji Khoja Family Collection.
Begum Aga Khan in South Africa Barakah
Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, Mata Salamat (1906 – 2000), with Countess Sakina Khoja and family. Date and event photo taken unknown. Photo: Zulfikarali M.A. Velji Khoja Family Collection.
His Highness the Aga Khan III with Prince Aly Khan, Princess Yasmin, Prince Sadruddin, Prince Amyn Muhammad and His Highness the Aga Khan IV
Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah with members of his family. Standing from l to r: Prince Amyn Muhammad, Prince Sadruddin, Prince Aly Khan holding Princess Yasmin, and Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam. Photo: (Late) Zul Khoja Family Collection
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Front cover of special souvenir commemorating Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s visit to Iran in 1951. The glossy 68 page hardcover book was published in 1953 by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan.
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Mawlana Sultna Mahomed Shah gives his blessings to an Ismaili child, as the Begum lovingly extends her hand to the child. Photo: H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan’s visit to Iran 1951, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah pictured with diplomatic representatives of various countries in Iran. Standing second from left is the Turkish ambassador. Photo: H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan’s visit to Iran 1951, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan.
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Portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 – 1957), in the special souvenir “H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan’s visit to Iran 1951,” published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan.
Aga Khan interview with American correspondent Iran Barakah
Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah giving an interview to an American correspondent, with Begum Aga Khan looking on. Photo: H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan’s visit to Iran 1951, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

Message to Ismaili Youth

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The message appeared in the Diamond Jubilee Yearbook published in Dar-es-Salaam on 10th August 1946.
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A 1902 photo of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah with Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee, bearing their signatures. Photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London.
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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.
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 A portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah by Walter Stoneman, bromide print. © National Portrait Gallery, London
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A Mint stamp of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah issued in 1990 as part of Pakistan’s “Pioneers of Freedom” series.
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Pakistan First Day Cover issued for Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s  birth centenary on November 2, 1977.
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Mosaic of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah by the late Gulgee, the renowned Pakistani Ismaili artist.
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29 December 1948: A telegram from Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah sent during the 63rd year of his reign conferring the title of Diwan on (Count) Gulamhussein Mohamed Naser Jindani. Photo: The Late Mohamed Jindani collection, London, UK.
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A portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah taken in New Delhi. Photo Credit: Collection of ‘The Ismaili’, Master Khimani Archives, Vancouver, Canada.
Aga Khan Scout Rally 1945 Barakah.com
Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, and the Begum Om Habibbeh Aga Khan (Mata Salamat), walking behind him – second from right – at a joint Guides/Scouts rally in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1945. Photo: Motani Collection, Ottawa.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah pictured with Badrudin Adatia, who currently lives in Ottawa, Canada. Recalls Adatia: “I wanted to take a picture of him with us and I asked his permission. The room was dim, however, and I didn’t have a flash on my camera. Although he was very sick and could not even walk, he told me he would head toward the window where there would be better light. Imagine! I clasped my hands with respect and said, “No Khudavind. I will take the picture just as we are.” Photo: Badrudin Adatia collection.
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May 1951: Mr. Akber Premji was asked to sit himself between Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Mata Salamat during his audience at the Ritz in London. Photo: Akber Premji Collection. Copyright.
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The Golden Jubilee medal that was distributed by Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah to thousands of Ismaili children.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah being weighed in gold during his Golden Jubilee celebrations held in Nairobi in 1936. The Governor of Kenya is given the gold bars by the Mukhi. Photo: Shaukat Noormohamed, Toronto/Mohammad Jindani, UK.
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Obverse of a medal commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah. Photo: Nizar Noorali Collection, Pakistan.
Gold Coin Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee 1946 Dar es Salaam Barakah
In contrast to the Diamond Jubilee medal distributed in Pakistan that is shown in the previous photo, this is a photo of the obverse of the circular commemorative gold coin, complete with a ribbon in the colours of the Ismaili Flag, that was presented to Colonial Officer Derek William Hodgson for his involvement in the security arrangements during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of His Highness the Aga Khan held in Dar es Salaam during August 1946. Photo: © Patrick Hodgson.
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August 1946: Vast crowds of Ismailis from all over the world had gathered in Dar-es-Salaam for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah. Photo: Motani Collection, Ottawa.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah speaking at the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Dar-es-Salaam. From Madagascar to Central Asia, Ismaili pilgrims converged on the city for the weighing ceremony on August 10, 1946 in Dar-es-Salaam. Five months earlier, many saw a similar weighing in Bombay. Both ceremonies raised over 640,000 British pounds each in the Aga Khan’s weight against diamonds.
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10 March 1946: Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, shows his appreciation and blesses the crowd after the diamond weighing ceremony at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium to mark his 60 years of Imamat. Photo: Karim Jassani Collection, Ottawa.
10 March 1946: 48th Imam of the Ismailis, His Highness the Aga Khan III, accompanied by smiling Ismaili leaders, walks by a cheerful and happy group of volunteers at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations held in Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium. The diamonds that he was weighed against were worth 640,000 British pounds and the money was returned by the Imam for the community's social uplifment programs. Photo Credit: Karim Jassani Collection, Ottawa. Mr. Jassani's late father, Itmadi Ebrahim Meherally Jassani, is seen at the right, and walking immediately behind him with a stick is Vazir Kassamali Javeri. In the centre is Varas Daya Vellji, holding an envelope.
10 March 1946: Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, accompanied by smiling Ismaili leaders, walks by a cheerful and happy group of volunteers at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations held in Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium. The diamonds that he was weighed against were worth 640,000 British pounds and the money was returned by the Imam for the community’s social uplifment programs. Photo: Karim Jassani Collection, Ottawa. Mr. Jassani’s late father, Itmadi Ebrahim Meherally Jassani, is seen at the right, and walking immediately behind him with a stick is Vazir Kassamali Javeri. In the centre is Varas Daya Vellji, holding an envelope.
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A genealogical depiction of  the 48 Ismaili Imams through a numbered chain which starts with Hazrat Ali as the first Imam alongside the Imamat crest, and which then continues in an anti-clockwise direction with the popular names of the Imams up to the 48th Imam, Sultan Mahomed Shah. The crest of the Ismaili Imam is flanked by the famous red and green flag of the Ismaili Imamat. A portrait of “MAULANA HAZAR IMAM” appears at the foot of the chart. The dates on either side of the portrait, 17.VIII.1885 and 17.VIII.1945, are respectively the date Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah became the 48th Imam (at the age of seven – he was born on November 2, 1877) and the date of the completion of his sixty years of the Imamat. Photo: Diamond Jubilee Souvenir published by the Ismailia Association of Africa. Credit: Sadruddin Khimani Family Collection, Vancouver, Canada.
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A message by Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah published in the Platinum Jubilee Souvenir Issue, marking his 70 years of Imamat,  asks his followers to set examples of fraternity and goodwill. Credit: Nizar Noorali Collection, Pakistan.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah acknowledges the affection of his followers who had gathered in their thousands to mark his Platinum Jubilee celebration at the Aga Khan Gymkhana in Karachi.
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Prince Aly Khan, eldest son of  Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, displaying a Platinum Plaque which he received on behalf of his ill father on the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in Bombay in February 1957. Photo: Ilm Mgazine, UK.
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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in full regalia. Photo from “Fidai” Magazine published in 1936 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. Credit: Sadruddin Pirani Collection, Ottawa.
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July 19, 1957: Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, seen seen holding the coffin of his grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah who passed away on July 11, 1957. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.
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February 1959: The villa, Noor al Salaam, where the body of  Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah lay temporarily buried before it was moved to its final resting place in the mausoleum. © Photo: Motani Collection, Ottawa
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February 1959: Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam left, his uncle Prince Sadruddin, right, and Prince Amyn at the back, carrying the shrouded body of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah from its temporary resting place to the mausoleum. Photo: Jehangir Merchant collection
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February 1959: Prince Sadruddin and Prince Amyn walking behind Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam.
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February 1959: Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s body being carried from the villa to its final resting place. © Motani Collection, Ottawa
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The marble sarcophagus of  Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah under the granite dome of his mausoleum in Aswan (see top photo). Photo: Jehangir Merchant collection.
Aga Khan Mausoleum Aswan Barakah Sarite Sanders
High up on the west bank of the Nile in Aswan stands the tomb of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, who died in 1957, and of his wife the Begum, who died in 2000. The Mausoleum is a very elegant pink granite structure of late 1950 origin. Aswan was the favourite wintering place of the Aga Khan and the Begum. The family’s white villa, Noor al Salaam, is seen in the garden beneath the tomb. Every day that his widow was at the Villa, she placed a Red Rose on his white Carrara marble tomb. Omme Habibah, popularly referred to as Mata Salamat by the Ismailis died on July 1st, 2000. The other months, a gardener filled this function.This magnificent mausoleumwas modelled on the Fatimid tombs in Egypt. Photo: © Sarite Sanders.

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 Imamat – A Hereditary Institution

Verily, God did choose Adam and Noah, the progeny of Abraham, and the progeny of Imran above all the worlds, descendants, one from the other: And God heareth and knoweth all things.” — The Holy Qur’an, 3:33-34

Count Fatehalli Dhalla presenting a sword, carried in a tray by Vazier Abdulalli Motani, to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, at the symbolic takhtnashini (enthronement) ceremony in Kampala on October 25, 1957. Photo: Copyright © Motani Family Collection.

The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet….The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself. — Quotes of His Highness the Aga Khan made in Ottawa Parliament, February 27, 2014, and to the magazine Politique Internationale in Spring 2010 (Read Interview)

The New Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in Switzerland after the death ff the Aga Khan III.
A portrait of the Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, taken shortly after he succeeded his late grandfather to the throne of Imamat on July 11, 1957 at the age of twenty. A framed portrait of the late 48th Imam who served the community for 72 years is seen in the background. Copyright. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

Date posted: November 2, 2021.

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Barakah requests readers to search their old albums and archives for historical photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family. Please share your treasured collections through Barakah, a website dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family. Write to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com to discuss your collections. Please click Collections to see photographs we have received from families around the world.

Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 275 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat.

5 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. Shukar lots of photos of our Beloved Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in various parts of the world. Our Imam from the photos seemsto have dedicated the whole of his lifetime for the upliftment of his murids. Shukar Alhamdulillah.

    Like

  2. The Aga Khan and Africa, what a great effort for the time by Habib V Keshavjee. Preserving historical moments in the lives of the Jamat in South Africa. Especially the message of brotherhood for those who care for Africa.

    Like

  3. Thank you Malik for sharing such wonderful memories of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah. You have an amazing reach in building this album to commemorate the 144th birth anniversary of our 48th Imam. May you always remain blessed 😇

    Like

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