Glimpses Into The Hereditary Imamat, a Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad, as Ismaili Muslims on December 13, 2022, Celebrate the 86th Birthday of their 49th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

Calligraphy by KARIM ISMAIL


On the auspicious occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s 86th birthday on December 13, 2022, we wish all our readers, Ismailis around the world and friends of the Ismaili community Salgirah Mubarak. We are pleased to share with you two beautiful works of calligraphy and an historic photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam being presented with a birthday cake at the International Centre in Toronto during his first Jamati (community) visit to Canada in November 1978.

Aga Khan Birthday Calligraphy by Karim Ismail, Barakah
Calligraphy: Shah Karim in square Kufi and Shah Karim Imam-e-Zaman in cursive script. Central: Heptagonal geometric motif. Artist: Karim Ismail, Toronto, Canada. See another Salgirah calligraphy at end of article.


Aga Khan presented with a birthday cake in Canada in 1978. Barakah.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is pictured with Ismaili leaders at the International Centre in Toronto as he is presented with a birthday cake ahead of his actual birthday, December 13th, during his first visit to Canada in November 1978. Photograph: Zinat Virani Family Collection, Vancouver.



Qur’an: The House of Imran

“God chose Adam and Noah and the House of Abraham and the House of Imran above all beings, the seed of one another; God hears, and knows.” — Qur’an, 3:33-34

Hadith: The Two Weighty Things

“Truly, I am leaving behind amongst you the two weighty things: the Book of God and my Ahl al-Bayt, they will not be parted from each other until they return to me at the paradisal pool.” — Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his family)

Aga Khan: Religious Leadership and The Living Imam

“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.”  – The Aga Khan, Politique Internationale, Spring 2010


the Ismaili Imamat

(The text below is adapted from the brochure Rays of Light, Glimpses Into the Ismaili Imamat, published in 2007)

Since the time of Hazrat ‘Ali, the first Shia Imam, the light of Imamat has illuminated the path of followers and guided their spiritual and intellectual understanding of Islam. His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) through his cousin and son-in-law, Hazrat ‘Ali, and his wife, Hazrat Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter. Ismaili Muslims address their Imam as Mawlana Hazar Imam (meaning Our Lord, the Present Living Imam).

Upon acceding to the Imamat on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20, His Highness declared that he had dedicated his life to the uplift and progress of Ismailis worldwide. Few at that time could have imagined the scope and depth of this lifelong commitment, which today exceeds not only to the Ismaili Muslims, but also to the wider communities within which they live.

Continuing his forefathers’ long tradition of Muslim leadership and service to humanity, His Highness, has devoted more than 65 years of his life towards upholding the dignity of mankind, promoting peace and stability and working towards the common good of all peoples, regardless of their origin or religion.

As Ismailis around the world celebrate the 86th birthday of His Highness, they express their heartfelt gratitude to him for his love and guidance that has enriched their lives and enlightened their souls.



“I am ambitious for you in the right way, just as a father and mother are ambitious for their children. Both a father and a mother want their children to work well, properly and ethically, and to carry these values throughout their lives. These are thoughts that I share with you, and although I will be leaving you physically today, I am always with you. I watch over you, I think of you, I pray for you, and I want you to know that I am always with my Jamath” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, December 13, 2008 (click HERE to read Mawlana Hazar Imam’s complete handwritten message.)

Aga Khan Direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad
His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad

Spiritual Leadership

Mawlana Hazar Imam is concerned with the spiritual and material advancement of his Ismaili followers around the world. While encouraging material and intellectual advancement, he has reminded them to keep in mind that the only part of the human being that is eternal is his or her soul.  He has constantly urged the Ismailis to maintain the right balance between their spiritual and material lives. The Imamat constitutes the very core of Shia Ismaili Muslim identity.


Reaffirming Identity

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Imamat has revived and reaffirmed pride and identity amongst Muslims with his interventions in cultural heritage and intellectual traditions.


Engaging in Dialogue

Mawlana Hazar Imam has continually emphasized the importance of bringing down walls that divide and replacing them with bridges that unite. This aspiration has also led to the creation of various centres and projects worldwide that aim to enhance understanding and promote pluralism.


Fostering Harmony

Championing the Qur’anic idea of man’s stewardship on earth, Mawlana Hazar Imam has sought to foster harmony between man and nature, man and his built environment and, most importantly, between people. Numerous programmes are committed to bringing people together and encouraging them to take an active role in the improvement of their lives and communities.


Inspiring Hope

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s commitment to a common humanity and the dignity of man is reflected in  the myriad initiatives that enable people to improve their living and social conditions. These initiatives respond to the needs of affected people across the world, providing many with the hope of a better life.


Salgirah MUBARAK Calligraphy (2)

This is Karim Ismail’s second work of art prepared for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 86th birthday. The first is shown at top of this page, which is also our feature image.

Aga Khan birthday calligraphy Barakah
Calligraphy: Border – Shah Karim in square Kufi; Central – Shah Karim Imam-e-Zaman in eastern Kufi. Artist: Karim Ismail, Toronto, Canada.

Date posted: December 11, 2022.



Karim Ismail portrait for Barakah
Karim Ismail

Originally from Uganda, Karim Ismail lived in England before settling in Canada. By profession, he is a Pharmacist (retired).  It was in England, in 1986, that he came across the artwork of a German Muslim, Karl Schlamminger (1935-2017), at the Ismaili Centre London. Karl’s artwork on calligraphy and geometrics, had a profound effect on Karim. He is frequently seen conducting calligraphy workshops for children at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Karim is also active on the literature counter at the Ismaili Centre Toronto.


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Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 300 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat. Also visit our two sister websites, Simerg and Simergphotos. Barakah’s editor may be reached at Please follow Malik @Facebook and @Twitter.


  1. His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is an inspiration not only to his Ismailis but the legacy he has left. He has dedicated his service and time for mankind as an Islamic leader. We have seen how his philosophies and philanthropic work has significant impact. Such works as his hospital , schools, and Universities in Asia and Africa were created on the grounds of the Islamic ethic of unity, kindness, peace, and tolerance. We all wish him a Great and Happy Birthday on this occasion.


  2. Ya Ali Madat Malik – we cannot thank you enough for your time, attention to detail, love, dedication in sharing this most precious information with us all and on this momentous and beautiful occasion of our beloved Hazar Iman’s birthday! 🙏🏻🎂🤗🥳 This will be truly treasured and be a momentous occasion for all of us and in the Ismaili community- Ameen. ❤️💚

    [è un regalo di una vita – uno che tutti faremo tesoro – la nostra gratitudine è per sempre di più.-Malik]🙏🏻❤️


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