This biography, which professes to give the "authentic life story" of "His Highness," is wholly uncritical, fulsome in its adulation, and careless in its facts. The reader would infer that the Aga was "the first man to point out the evils of untouchability in India," that he was the spiritual head of "millions of followers," that he removed all difficulties at the "Round Table" in London, was an outstanding figure at Geneva, and was distinguished not only in the realm of sport but in that of piety: "Some portion of the Quran is read regularly every day, and prayers, as enjoined by the Prophet, are uttered punctually at the appointed times. It is because of this, and because he displays none of that lethargy which is the characteristic of some Oriental potentates, that the members of the Shiah community accept his word without question, and obey all that he dictates with perfect and profound confidence."
The millions of Moslems whom he is said to represent shrink to a group of less than 100,000 Khojas in the Bombay Presidency and in East Africa. (see Encyclopedia of Islam). The Aga's fondness for ostentation is evident not only from the biography but from the biographer. He sends addresses to royalty "encased in a magnificent casket of solid gold." At this first nuptials in Poona, "a country surfeited by spectacles of pomp was astonished. "His Highness collected other titles when he visited Europe on subsequent occasions. "He scintillates in the viceroy's council, and this superman is not only "an enormous reader," but knows more about books then the publishers, about nurseries than a gardener, and about diplomacy than "the greybeards of the Chancelleries of Europe." His Second wife whom we remember from the newspapers, is described as "one of the most beautiful women in Europe and one who carries, with superb aplomb, the magnificent gems which the Aga Khan has showered upon her. She is of French birth, but nevertheless, takes the keenest and most intelligent interest in matters Muslim. She is always to be seen beside the Aga Khan in the embassies of Europe, and in her conversation displays a deep and unique knowledge of modern world politics."
The most revealing chapter in the book comes at the end, and tells of the Aga Khan's income, how it is derived an administered, and the dreaded power of excommunication held over the heads of those who failed to pay their tithes. In religious affairs this descendant of the Prophet retains supreme and absolute control as a manifestation of deity. He is also a good sport, and won the Derby race twice. In this volume he is painted without a flaw.
The following two paragraphs, however, from an Open Letter, published by the Secretary of the Khoja Reformers' Society, Karachi, 1927, and widely circulated in India at the time, are illuminating:
"Before proceeding to carry out our intention to depict the deplorably backward and neglected condition in which we the followers of your Highness, have been systematically kept we would as a preliminary, refer to the connection which associates your Highness' family with the Khoja Community. The connection is the alleged descent of your family from the caliph Ali, traced through the Grand Masters of Alamut, the infamous heads of the Assassins, the fourth successor of whom Hassan II Zakariasalam (grandson of Kiabuzirig umid, the Vizier of the first Old Man of the Mountain, Hassan bin Sabah) is stated to be in the direct line of your ancestors, That is your Highness connection with the Khoja Community is based on mere allegations of lineage to the Caliph Ali and therefore to the Prophet's family."
"Nominally, the followers of your Highness pass for a sect of Islam. As a matter of fact, the fundamental and essential tenets of Islam are almost wholly violated by the principles inculcated among them. It is common knowledge that Islam requires of its adherents belief in the One True God; the offering of prayers to that Almighty God; the offering of prayers to that Almighty God; faith in the Holy Koran; giving of Zakat (poor rate); the practice of fasting and going on Hajj (pilgrimage). How is it possible for your Highness' followers to conform to the first and most important of these tenets when missionaries in your Highness pay and acting under your instructions preach in every Jamait-Khana (Khoja prayer house) that your Highness is the Almighty God, and divine worship is to be paid to you alone and no one else? And as a matter of fact, that is what your preachers preach, your followers practice and all prayers are addressed personally to your Highness as the Supreme Deity"... No man is a hero to his own valet.