Irfan Aga Khan: The Name of Our Beloved Seven Year Old Prince Has its Roots in the Qur’an; Irfan is Also Widely Applied in Mystical Islam as Gnosis and Knowledge of the Divine

Prepared and compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

[Prince Irfan, grandson of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and oldest child of Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa turns seven on April 11, 2022. His younger brother, Prince Sinan, became 5 years old on January 2, 2022. The princes’ parents, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, were born on October 12, 1971 and August 5, 1988 respectively — Ed.]

On October 24, 2014, Mawlana Hazar Imam informed the Jamats around the world that Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa were expecting their first child. Prince Irfan was born the following spring on April 11, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s special message to the global Jamat on the occasion expressed happiness of his and Princess Salwa’s family. Jamats around the world received the news of Prince Irfan’s birth with immense joy and held traditional celebrations in their respective Jamatkhanas.

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Prince Irfan Aga Khan
Prince Irfan Aga Khan and his father Prince Rahim watch as artists perform the popular song Dama Dam Mast Kalander at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Lisbon in July 2018.

Irfan is an indirect Qur’anic name for boys. Irfan means “wisdom”, or more correctly, Wisdom with a capital W. It refers to all that is good and true of thoughts and deeds. It is derived from the Ain-R-F root (to know, to recognize), which is used in many places in the Holy Qur’an, [1] as in the following verse:


Wa Jā’a ‘Ikhwatu Yūsufa Fadakhalū `Alayhi Fa`arafahum Wa Hum Lahu Munkirūna — Sura Yusuf, Chapter 12, Verse 58


And the brethren of Joseph came, and entered unto him, and he knew them, but they knew him not — Holy Qur’an, 12:15, translation by A.J. Arberry.

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Princess Salwa Aga Khan and Prince Irfan at the Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon Barakah visual and textual expressions
Princess Salwa shows Prince Irfan a picture of Mawlana Hazar Imam as a young boy at the Rays of Light exhibition in Lisbon in July 2018 during the Diamond Jubilee. Photo: Aziz Ajaney/The Ismaili.

The term ‘irfan (gnosis), that has a multitude of other meanings such as knowledge, awareness and learning, is widely applied in Islamic mysticism. In the mystical context, like another term in the same family, mari’fa, which is also translated as gnosis, the knowledge is of certain kind which can be achieved neither through the senses nor experience, nor through reason nor narration, but rather is acquired by inner experiences and interior unveilings. [2] It is that knowledge that unites man with God after penetrating and transforming him completely.

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Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Prince Irfan.
Prince Rahim and Prince Irfan at Prince Hussain’s Nature Photographic Exhibition in Lisbon. Photo: Shireen Nazim/The Ismaili.

The famous prayer of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) sums up the end toward which the gnostic strives with all his mind, soul and body:

“O God, deliver us from preoccupations with worldly vanities and show us the nature of things ‘as they really are’. Remove from our eyes the veil of ignorance, and show us things as they really are…Deliver us from ourselves, and accord us intimate knowledge of Thee.” [3]

Date posted: April 11, 2022.


This compiled piece contains excerpts from the following sources:



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