Ismaili History 836 - PRINCE KARIM AGA KHAN IV (1376/1957....)

He was born in Geneva on 28th Ramdan, 1355/December 13, 1936. Lady Ali Shah (d. 1938) had given his name, Karim. He was born in the wake of cataclysm in the world. From the age of four years, he acquired the rudiments of formal education from Miss Doris Lyon, the governess and a friend of his family.During the Second World War (1939-1945), when his father, Prince Aly Salomone Khan had offered his services to the Allies, the Aga Khan IV with his brother Prince Amyn Muhammad, accompanied by his mother, Princess Joan Aly Khan, had gone to Beirut, and thence to Nairobi on May 27, 1941 via Cairo, where they lived for four years. By the time, the Aga Khan IV was seven years old, he had been well versed in religious education under the tutorship of Missionary Kaderali B. Patel. In 1943, the Aga Khan IV led the Eid al-Fitr prayer amidst a large congregation of the Ismailis in the Jamatkhana, situated at Government Road in Nairobi. On that occasion, his mother remarked: 'A great accomplishment for such a small boy.' In 1944, he also visited Dar-es-Salam with his mother and brother.

At the end of the World War, the Aga Khan IV went back to Europe on May, 1945, where he joined the Le Rosey School, situated in Rolle, Switzerland. His classmates included numerous Europeans, including the Duke of Kent, the future king Baudoin of Belgium, the Prince Victor Emanuel of Italy, etc. Besides the prescribed education, the Aga Khan IV was taught Arabic, Urdu and Islamic History at home by Mustapha Kamal of Aligarh University. At the end of seventeen years, the Aga Khan's school days came to an end and proceeded to United States, where he enrolled as an undergraduate at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachussetts, where he studied with great interest. His style of living at Harvard was quite frugal. His one roomate was highly amazed to discover that he had only two suits and one pair of shoes in his closet. He even did not own a car.

Richard T. Gill, the Allston Burr Senior Tutor of Leverett House at Harvard University gives his views in these words:- 'His Highness was a good student at Harvard and a young man of exceptionally fine personal qualities. He took his studies seriously and yet found time for many extra- curricular activities, including the Islamic Association, the French Club and a variety of sports such as crew, hockey, soccer and skiing. These activities were vigorously pursued but they were not allowed to interfere with the fundamental, academic objectives of the college. In his last term at Harvard, His Highness's record won him the academic distinction of Dean's List standing. The general impression His Highness made on both Faculty and students here was an excellent one. He was completely at home with students of every background and did not in any way set himself apart from the general life of the college. He impressed those who knew him as a young man of great sensitivity and understanding who possessed both the mental and moral stature for leadership. His basic outlook was serious but he was at the same time a relaxed, pleasant companion with an amiable sense of humour. He was in the deepest sense, an outstanding citizen of the Harvard community.' (cf, 'Fatimi Sitaro' by Kadarali B. Patel, Bombay, 1958, pp. 13-4)

Initially, the Aga Khan IV studied mathematics, chemistry and general science. Soon afterwards, he started study of Islamic history and had an occasion to mix with the eminent professors, like H.A.R. Gibb, Philip K. Hitti etc. Besides his paper on 'Islamic Sects and Mysticism', his paper, 'Rise of the Nizaris and the Beginning of Dawa in Indo-Pakistan' was highly appreciated by his professors. He however could not finish his another paper on 'Free Will and Predestination in Islam' when he had to leave the University. During his stay at Harvard, he was also a member of the Hasty Pudding Club and the Islamic Association.

In 1954, the Aga Khan IV, under the instructions of his grandfather, paid a short visit to the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent and East African countries with his brother. During the death of the Aga Khan III on July 11, 1957, his family members were in Geneva. Otto Giesen, a solicitor with the firm of Slaughter and May, brought the Will of the Aga Khan III to Geneva from Lloyds Bank, London, and read it at Barkat Villa before the Imam's family that:- 'Ever since the time of my ancestor Ali, the first Imam, that is to say over a period of thirteen hundred years, it has always been the tradition of our family that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from amongst any of his descendants, whether they be sons or remote male issue and in these circumstances and in view of the fundamentally altered conditions in the world in very recent years due to the great changes which have taken place including the discoveries of atomic science, I am convinced that it is in the best interest of the Shia Muslim Ismailia Community that I should be succeeded by a young man who has been brought up and developed during recent years and in the midst of the new age and who brings a new outlook on life to his office as Imam. For these reasons, I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my own son, Aly Salomone Khan to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to the Imam and Pir of all Shia Ismailian followers.'

Raymond Brandy Williams writes in 'Religions of Immigrants from India and Pakistan' (New York, 1988, p. 190) that, 'The Nizaris are the only Ismailis who claim an Imam for this time in a line that is traced to Ali: Prince Karim Shah, Aga Khan IV, is followed as the forty-ninth Imam with the designation (nass) traced back to Muhammad.'

Upon his accession to the Imamate in 1957 at the age of twenty, he interrupted his undergraduate studies at Harvard for a year to visit to the various Ismaili communities, during which time he was installed to the Imamate in a number of enthronment ceremonies held in Dar-es-Salaam, Nairobi, Kampala, Karachi and Bombay. Having toured for 18 months, the Aga Khan IV returned to Harvard, where he worked twice as hard, studying as well as guiding the community. He took eight courses instead of four and wrote thesis on relation between Druze and Maronites in Lebanon from 1829 to 1835. He was awarded the degree of M.A. on July 11, 1959 at Harvard, and thus, he remained about 23 months as a student of Harvard University during his Imamate period. He also granted 50,000 dollars worth scholarships for students from the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, India, Iran and Afghanistan. Already, a large sum had been donated to introduce the Aga Khan Chair of Islamic Studies at the Harvard and Beirut Universities.

Ismaili History 837 - Takhat Nashini Celebrations

The first ceremonial Takhat Nashini of the Aga Khan IV commemorated in Dar-es-Salaam on October 19, 1957 amid great pomp and splendour, and was attended by 30,000 Ismailis. The next Takhat Nashini took place in Nairobi on October 22, 1957 in presence of 18,000 Ismailis. Willi Frischauer gave a brief account of the event in his 'The Aga Khans' (London, 1970, p. 222) that, 'On a smaller scale, the Nairobi Takhat Nashini was a repetition of the Dar-es-Salaam ceremony. In the grounds of the Aga Khan Club the lone figure of the young new leader seated on the throne set high amid his people was strangely appealing. The red robes and gold turbans of the Ismaili dignitaries who invested him with robe, pagri, sword, chain and ring made a vivid picture such as Kenya had not seen before. The dais, a mass of flowers, red, blue, white and yellow, and the throne, flanked by great vases of roses, stood out against the background of flags fluttering gently in the slight breeze. A thousand people of all races gathered at the social function that evening to greet the Aga Khan who arrived with the Governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring. There was dancing to a regimental band and sumptuous dinner.'
The third ceremonial Takhat Nashini took place in Kampala on October 25, 1957 among 15,000 Ismailis and other dignitaries and high officials. The next Takhat Nashini was celebrated at Karachi on January 23, 1958 in National Stadium, where a mammoth gathering was recorded to be over 1,50,000. Willi Frischauer writes,'The sound of trumpets heralded the arrival of the Aga Khan by the side of Pakistan's President - Prime Minister Malik Firoz Khan Noon and his cabinet were already in their seats. The brief act of installation was no different from the East African ritual except for the three hundred year old copy of the Holy Quran which was presented to the Aga Khan, a rare example of Arab calligraphy written in Medina by a Haji from Bokhara.' (Ibid, pp. 225-226) The fifth Takhat Nashini was celebrated in Dacca on February 12, 1958 amongst 30,000 Ismailis, and the sixth one held in Bombay on March 11, 1958 at Walla Bhai Patel Stadium, witnessed by 80,000 Ismailis.

Ismaili History 838 - Prince Aly Salomone Khan

Prince Aly Salomone Khan was born at Turin in Italy on June 13, 1911. Because he was a delicate child, his father, the Aga Khan III decided against sending him to experience the rigours of an English boarding school. He was entrusted to the care of a private tutor, Mr. C.M. Waddington, the former Principal of Mayo College for the sons of Princes in India. He finished his education at Lincoln's Inn, London, though he was not called to the bar. He was fluent in a number of European and Oriental languages. He spoke English in the right Oxford accent, and talked and gave speeches in French with rich fluency.
Prince Aly Khan visited India with his mother in 1923. The Aga Khan III sent his son in Syria in 1930 and again in 1931 where he inaugurated a school at Khawabi. He also visited India on November 21, 1931, and during the year 1932 he had been deputed to India as a representative of his father and made historical visit of Bombay and Calcutta. He also had gone to Pinang, Singapore and Rangoon. Prince Aly S. Khan was granted an honour of J.P. (Justice of Peace) by British India on November 1, 1934. His first marriage took place at Paris with Joan Guinness, known as Joan Aly Khan on May 18, 1936, who gave birth of the Aga Khan IV on December 13, 1936 and Prince Amyn Muhammad on September 12, 1937. This marriage, however, did not last long. Then on May 27, 1948, he married the famous Hollywood actress Ritta Hayworth. This marriage was not fated to go well. There was a divorce in 1953. Through this marriage, Prince Aly Khan had a daughter, Yasmin, who was born in December 20, 1949.

Prince Aly Khan obtained an aeroplane pilot's license in 1937 when he was about 26 years old, and was flying regularly. He was equally enthusiastic about motor racing and skiing. He was great at taking risks. He broke his legs three times skiing and nearly broke his neck many a time while motor racing and flying. In a biography of Prince Aly Khan, entitled 'Golden Prince' (London, 1955, p. 15), the British author Gordon Young says, 'He has always looked like a man restlessly - searching for a happiness which for most of the time seems to have eluded him like a shadow. His life has been rich but it has never seemed incomplete.'

The East Africa saw Prince Aly Khan for the first time in February, 1939 when he visited every large town and met Ismailis who were struck by his captivating youth and charm. One glaring instance is the Prince Aly Khan War Fund which he inaugurated in East Africa and which raised for the Allies a very handsome amount.

His life has been a headline parade. He was an outstanding social figure, a darling of the international set - equally at home in the West and in the East, an international sportsman, phillanthropist, soldier and an able diplomat. Unfortunately, the social gossip column writers took keen interest only in his social occupations and painted him as a playboy in florid and bombastic words. Prince Aly Khan had played a key role in the Ismaili communities and directed the different institutions from time to time. He inaugurated Aly Nursary at Bombay on February 23, 1944 and since then the opening of the nursary schools began in the community in different places.

He had rendered an outstanding military services to the Allies in the World War II (1939-1945) and joined one of the toughest fighting forces in the world - the French Foreign Legion. He saw service in the Middle East under General Waygand. In 1940, he joined the British forces in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomantry. He was promoted to Lt. Col. on October 10, 1944. Later, he was decorated for distinguished service with the U.S. Army. In an operation, aided by a British officer and two Ismaili irregulars, he captured a tank in the desert of Syria. From the French he received both the Legend of Honour and the Croix de Guerre with palms on August 15, 1944 at Paris. In 1951, he opened Kibuli Mosque at Campalla.

In November, 1957, he met President Iskander Mirza of Pakistan and was offered a service as the country's permanent spokesman in the United Nations, whose formal announcement was made on February 6, 1958. He put over Pakistan's viewpoint admirably. His Assistant at the Pakistan Mission to the U.N., Mr. Agha Shahi said: 'He sometimes worked till 10 or 11 in the night. He did not smoke, and at cocktail parties, he just ordered tomato juice for himself.' He was elected Vice-President of the U.N. General Assembly on September 17, 1958 and was also the Chairman of the Peace Observation Committee.

The tragic death of Prince Aly S. Khan took place in a car accident near Paris on the night between May 12 and 13, 1960. Field Marshall Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan said in his tribute that: 'I am deeply shocked at the sudden tragic death of Prince Aly Khan. His statesmanship, his friendliness and his personal charm will be remembered by thousands of his friends and admirers. Pakistan has lost a diplomat of the high calibre and value.'

Prince Aly Khan had expressed his wish to be buried at Salamia among Syrian Ismailis he knew and loved so well. In the meantime he was to be interred in the grounds of the Chateau de l'Horizon where a grave was dug in the lawn by the side of his study. Starting on the sad journey to the South of France, chanting and praying Ismailis carried the coffin which was covered with the red and green Ismaili flag and put it on a special train. In the coach ahead were the Aga Khan IV, Prince Sadruddin and Prince Amyn Muhammad in their compartment. Regular trains taking precedence, the trip took twelve hours and it was midnight before they arrived. Next day, at the open grave, the Aga Khan IV, palms turned skywards, recited the funeral prayers. Then Prince Aly Khan was put to rest in the temporary grave.

On Monday, the 27th Jamada I, 1392/July 10, 1972 the final burial ceremony of late Prince Aly Khan took place in Salamia, Syria according to his will. It was participated by the leaders of the community from Pakistan, India, East Africa, Europe, United States and South East Asia, including 36 delegates and four guests. Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan and Prince Amyn Muhammad were also present in the ceremony. The remains of late Prince Aly Khan was transported from Nice to Damascus by an Air France chartered Boeing on July 10, 1972 at 7.00 a.m., and it was interred in the main Jamatkhana compound with great honour. In his speech, Ahmad Nasir al-Hayek, President of H.H. The Aga Khan's Salamia Council said: 'Salamia, this town which is situated at the edge of the desert, and patiently faced many natural disasters, is very proud to have within its humble existence this selected gathering on this very sad occasion. The occasion of the Prophet's sacred family; His Serene Highness Prince Aly Khan, son of late Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah and the beloved father of the present Imam of the Ismailis.....The late Prince Aly Khan had loved Salamia and its inhabitants. To whom they represented the Arab tradition which are well known for their pride, integrity, bravery and hospitality. In this patch of our Arab land his imagination took him back, through our Islamic and Arabian history, to see his great ancestors travelling through the Arabs land to Africa, and Europe to spread Islamic ideas and Arab civilization. His great ancestors played a major role in the establishment and spreading of such civilization. As it is also well known that he in person had served Islam and Arab affairs internationally and particularly in United Nations. And as a symbol of his love and admiration he made his will to be buried here in Salamia which is loved by every Ismaili, because our glory started from its soil, and also in this soil rest the bodies of a number of his ancestors as it will have now his own.'

Mata Salamat Umm Habiba, the Begum Aga Khan recently observed her 90th birthday at Aswan in Upper Egypt on February 15, 1996. She told in an interview to 'Hello' (February 24, 1996) that, 'He (Prince Aly Khan) was a very big-hearted man and not only did he not mind being displaced by his son, he was proud of him. Aly Khan was phenomenally alive.'

Returning to the thread of our narrative, we will quote Malise Ruthven as writing in 'Islam in the World' (New York. 1991, p. 218) that, 'The Aga Khan's spiritual authority has enabled him to impose religious and legal obligations on his followers which have allowed them to adjust to modern conditions without loss of religious faith - something which Sunni Islam, with its legalistic and literalistic traditions, has found much harder to achieve. The Ismailis have become the world's most prosperous Islamic community outside the oil regions; it is a community, moreover, whose prosperity has been achieved as a result of its own efforts under a succession of astute and capable living Imams.'

The Aga Khan IV continued and extended the modernization policies of his grandfather, and closely supervised the religious and temporal affairs of his followers, through their councils, and paying regular visits to them. He has shown a particular interest in improving the socio-economic and educational conditions of the Ismailis. In the field of education, he has encouraged the Ismailis to acquire specialized and technical skills, and providing numerous scholarship in western institutions for eligible students. Currently, he supports a network of some 300 educational institutions and programmes in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania and elsewhere.

On February 4, 1971, the foundation stone was laid for the Aga Khan Hospital with a medical college and nursing school at Karachi, and its nursing school was inaugurated in 1981, which was graded to the University. In sum, the Aga Khan University and the University Hospital were built at an estimated total commitment of 300 million dollars. The University's Faculty of Health Sciences consists of a School of Nursing which began classes in October, 1980 and a Medical College commissioned in September, 1983. The School of Nursing graduated its first class of nurses in December, 1983 and is programmed to educate 110 skilled nurses each year. The 721-bed Aga Khan University Hospital located on a Campass. The Medical Complex represents both a link to the great Islamic traditions of the past, and a bold progressive action aimed at addressing the health needs of the Third World.

The Aga Khan Health Services consist of an elaborate network of about 200 health programmes, including six general hospitals in different Asian and African countries. The Aga Khan Health and Education services are available to all people regardless of their caste and creed. Many new projects in these fields were launched during 1982-3 when the 25th anniversary of Silver Jubilee of his Imamate was celebrated.

Being keenly concerned with the administrative and economic efficiency of his programme, the Aga Khan promotes and finances many of his different projects in the field of health, education, rural development and social welfare through the Aga Khan Foundation, established in 1967. With headquarters in Geneva and branches in several countries, the Aga Khan Foundation now collaborates with more than thirty national and international organisations for the implementation of numerous programmes in the third world.

For the realization of his economic programmes, the Aga Khan set up the Industrial Promotion Services (I.P.S.) in 1963, operating in several Asian and African countries including Canada. It has launched more than one hundred projects in the field, ranging from textiles to modern enterprises in tourism, providing employment for ten thousand persons. All the Aga Khan's existing projects and institutions relating to the economic activities, are now absorbed into the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. The Fund, established in 1984 seeks to promote economic projects in the third world.

Being a modern Muslim leader with an international outlook, the Aga Khan has shown a profound interest in promoting a better understanding of Islam and its cultural heritage. W. Montgomery Watt writes in 'Islamic Philosophy and Theology' (Edinburgh, 1985, p. 154) that, 'Under the leadership of recent Imam, the Ismailites have given other Muslims an example of how Islamic faith may be adapted to the modern world and may lead to effective action in it.' In pursuit, he has established a number of specific institutions and programmes. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (A.K.T.C.), formed in Switzerland in 1988, promotes and focuses attention on contemporary expressions of the Islamic humanistic tradition. Its objectives are universal, perpetuating what is valuable from the past and to identify directions for the future.

The Aga Khan Award for Islamic Architecture, established in 1976, seeking to encourage architectural excellence for the Islamic world, declaring its prize like a noble prize on every three years from 1980. It includes five prizes to be awarded during 15 years, each prize will cover one lac dollars. Akbar S. Ahmed writes in 'Living Islam' (London, 1993, p. 54) that, 'In particular his (the Aga Khan IV) propagation of Islamic Architecture has allowed him to provide a lead and draw in Muslims in all over the world. The combination of tradition and modernity has generated a global feeling of Muslim pride and identity.' The students from different Islamic countries also continue to benefit from the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, established in 1979 at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its mandate is to educate new generations of architects, planners, teachers and researchers. Harvard was chosen because it is a major centre of scholarship in Islamic art and architecture, and MIT because of its expertise in high technology architecture. In the long term, the Program's graduates, two thirds of whom are from the Islamic world, will serve as designers, and teachers of designers of a built environment that meets the needs of societies in transition.

In 1974, the Aga Khan IV called a meeting at Nairobi, being participated by the distinguished scholars and members of the eleven Ismailia Associations. It was followed by a Paris Conference in 1975, where an International Co-ordinating Committee was formulated under the Ismailia Association for Kenya, and also the formation of Institute of Ismaili Studies had been finalized to promote Islamic studies. Finally, the Aga Khan announced the formation of the Institute of Ismaili Studies to the world Ismaili jamats through a written message on November 25, 1977, during his birth-day celebration, which was held before three days due to the Muharram on December 10, 1977. He said: 'It gives me great happiness to inform my jamat of the formal inauguration in London of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. As my spiritual children are aware, not since the Fatimid period has there been in existence a research centre for Ismaili studies, manned especially by outstanding Ismaili men and women scholars. This is therefore a significant step in making it possible for my jamat to secure the fruits of Ismaili scholarship in the history, philosophy, theology and literature of Ismailism and Islam by virtue of an academic institution created by our own efforts and resources.'

Ismaili History 839 - Titles and Honour

None equals the selfless and valuable services of the Aga Khan IV in the world, which can be gauged from the face of the facts that he has been invested many titles to appreciate his illustrious services. The Queen of England has awarded him the title of His Highness on July 26, 1957. On August 12, 1957, the Sultan of Zanzibar invested the title of Brilliant Star of Zanzibar. During his visit to Iran for ten days, the king of Iran awarded him the title of His Royal Highness on October 24, 1959. He visited Goa for the first time, where the Portuguese government conferred the title of Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry on October 27, 1960. The President of Ivory Coast decorated the Aga Khan with the title of Grand Cross of the National Order on August 4, 1965. On his way to Europe, the Aga Khan alighted at Ugadaught, the capital of Upper Volta in West Africa, when the President awarded him title of National Order on August 5, 1965. He arrived in Tananarive, the capital of Malagasy, where the President awarded him the title of Grand Cross of the National Order of Malagache Republic on November 15, 1966. The President of Comore Island, Sayed Muhammad Shaikh awarded the Aga Khan the title of Grand Cross of the Green Crescent on November 20, 1966. It was his first visit to Pakistan with his wife when the President of Pakistan granted the title of Nishan-e-Imtiaz on January 15, 1970. The Prime Minister of Italy, Guilio Andreotti had personally received the Aga Khan on December 8, 1977 at the Palazzo Chigi, and awarded Italy's highest national award, namely Order of the Knight of the Grand Cross in recognition of his role in the development of Sardina's economy. The Aga Khan was also honoured the title of Gran Croce Della Republica Italiana by the government of Italy in 1978. His Majesty King Hasan II of Morocco conferred the grand cordon of Ouissam al-Arch, the highest Moroccon honour upon the Aga Khan on November 26, 1986 at Rabat at a dinner hosted to him at the royal palace. Dignitaries like His Royal Highness Prince Bender bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister of Morocco, Azeddina Laraki etc. were also present in the ceremony. On October 26, 1988, the Italy's President Francesco Cossiga invested the Imam the title of The Order of the Cavaliere del Lavoro at Rome, and he was the first Muslim to be so honoured in Italy. On November 7, 1990, the French President Francois Mitterand, awarded the Aga Khan at Paris, the highest national honour of Commander of the Legion d'Honneur, established by Nepoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
The World Monuments Fund recently honoured the Aga Khan IV with its prestigious Hadrian Award for his vigorous and fruitful efforts to preserve and revitalise historic cities in Islamic world on October 28, 1996 at New York.

The Aga Khan IV, the present 49th Hazar Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims has been responsible not only for guiding a progressive community of Shia Ismaili Muslims scattered all over the world, but he has also managed a vast complex of administrative, social, economical and cultural enterprises in the world today. In 1976, he moved his headquarters from Switzerland to Aiglemont, Gouvieux, near Paris.

The Aga Khan married Lady James Crichton-Stuart, nee Sarah Crocker-Poole; known as Begum Salima in Paris on October 28, 1969. The Aga Khan's first child, Princess Zahra was born on September 18, 1970. The second child, Prince Rahim was born on October 12, 1971 and the third son, Prince Husayn was born on April 10, 1974.

The separation of the Aga Khan with his wife, Begum Salima through a divorce took place at the end of 1994. The Aga Khan asked his lawyers in this context to start divorce proceeding against his wife on September 30, 1994. The divorce was officially pronounced on March 23, 1995 by a Swiss court.

On May 26, 1996, the Aga Khan IV was specially invited to address at Brown University, where he delivered the baccalaureate address to the Class in the Meeting Home of the First Baptist in United States, near the Brown University Campus. Hence, the Aga Khan was the first Muslim ever to give the Baccalaureate address at a Brown commencement in the school's illustrious 232-years history. In his speech, Mr. Vartan Gregorian, President of Brown University, said that the Aga Khan embodied the ecumenical spirit that links the three great monotheistic religion: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. He went on to say that as a major activist for civilized humanity and universal values, the Aga Khan's leadership has brought about flourishing systems for welfare, learning, housing and culture. Equally vital are his faith in education and his ability to tap the resources of European, Asian and American institutions of higher learning to enhance the well-being of human kind. 'To see how well these enlightened actions succeeded, you need only visit the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi, where people of different faiths, races and classes receive the same high quality education and care - for that University and that Hospital are the best in the region.'

In his Baccalaureate address, the Aga Khan sought to correct the misperceptions about Islam and its followers which exist in the collective consciousness of most Western cultures. He stressed the great need for increase mutual understanding between the Islamic World and the West. He said that such understanding is more essential today because the Muslim World is one of the only two potential geo-political forces, vis-a-vis the West, on the world stage: the other being the East Asian Tigers, and also because in the wake of the Cold War, violence and cruelty are becoming rampant around the world. The Aga Khan also said that 'violence is not a function of faith' but rather an effect of demographic economic and political problems in the Muslim World leading to civil unrest and discontent. The Aga Khan further said that 'universities in the West' can help 'build a bridge across the gulf of knowledge which separates the Islamic World from the West.' This bridge, he said could be built upon a common Abrahamic monotheistic tradition and common ethical principles, founded on shared human values. It could help to adapt proven Western method of development to the specific contexts of Islamic countries.

On May 27, 1996, Brown University of Providence, Rhode Island, USA conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws upon the Aga Khan for 'service to Islam and all human kind.

In Hunza, the northern area of Pakistan, the Baltit Fort Project, a 800-year old landmark of Islamic architecture has been brought back to its former splendid by the Historic Cities Support Programme (HCSP) of The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Fort is restored at a total cost of $. 2.15 million by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Getty Grant Programme and the Norwegian bilatered aid programme, NORAD, committed $. 200,000 and $. 450,000 respectively to the restoration project. The restoration work was completed in about five years. Accordingly, an inauguration ceremony of Baltit Fort took place in presence of President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari of Pakistan and the Aga Khan in presence of 350 guests and delegates from all over the world. In his speech, the Aga Khan said, 'As the prime historic landmark of Hunza, the fort is a major tourist attraction and a potential source of income for the local community. It can, therefore, be expected that the restoration project itself will act as a dynamic factor of change.'

On October 17, 1996, the Aga Khan delivered a keynote address in The Commonwealth Press Union Conference at Cape Town, South Africa. Other speakers at the Conference included South Africa's Executive Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, former President and Leader of the National Party, F.W. De Klerk, and Britain's Leader of the Opposition, Tony Blair.

Being the founder and principal shareholder of Nation Printers and Publishers in Kenya, East Africa's leading publishing group, the Aga Khan said in his address that, 'The media can help prevent cultureal conflicts arising out of the communication revolution of 21st century.' He spoke of a spirit of 'creative encounter' that the media would need to engender if 'the growing demand for cultural integrity was to be reconciled with the dazzling rise of the global village.' Explaining to an audience of 300 representatives of the media from some 40 countries of the Commonwealth that the communications revolution was 'a two-edged sword, opening doors to the future, but also threatening cultures and traditional values.'

Recently, The World Monuments Fund honoured the Aga Khan IV with its prestigious Hadrian Award for his vigorous and fruitful efforts to preserve and revitalize historic cities in the Islamic world on October 28, 1996 at New York. In his keynote speech at the presentation ceremony, Cyrus Vance, a former US Secretary of State spoke of the Aga Khan's commitment to 'the preservation and renewal of societies,' noting that 'the Aga Khan has laboured through out his bridge divisions between the Muslim world and other communities, reminding us that we cannot regard Islamic society as separate from the larger community of nations.' It was an endeavour which, he said 'is especially vital today, as we face conflicts between nations and cultures.' Acknowledging the honour, the Aga Khan expressed the hope that his 'efforts for cultural rehabilitation in Islamic societies through architecture will, due to the very diversity of their world address such a wide spectrum of issues, covering such a large number of peoples and places that the lessons learned will in many cases be both universal and replicable for other societies and their inherited cultures.'

It must be known that the previous recipients of the Hadrian Award include Prince Charles, David Rockefeller, Dominique de Menil, Paul Mellon, and Marella and Giovanni Agnelli. The Aga Khan is the first Muslim leader ever to receive the Hadrian Award.

'Currently' writes Sami G. Hajjar and Steven J. Brezezinski in 'The Nizari Ismaili Imam and Plato's Philosopher King' (cf. 'Islamic Studies', vol. XVI, 1977, p. 304) that, 'The sect is led by Prince Imam Karim Aga Khan IV, the 49th Imam of the sect. He is descendant of Nizar, the eldest son of the Fatimid Caliph-Imam al-Mustansir Billah, who himself descends from al-Husayn, the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.'

The Ismailis are spread almost in every corner of the world at present under the spiritual leadership of the Aga Khan. Most of the Ismailis live in their countries with their old traditions. About four distinct traditions are prevalent in the world Ismailis. In Syria, the Fatimid tradition is practised. In Central Asia, the tradition of Nasir Khusaro is in operation. The Khoja Ismailis adhered to the tradition of the Indian pirs, and the Ismailis of Iran mostly attached to the Alamut tradition. Above all, the fundamental principle of these Ismailis is to recognize the Imam of the Age. During his first visit to Moscow, the Aga Khan said to his followers on January 29, 1995 that:- 'First, let me remind you, that for all murids of the Imam, whether they are from Central Asia, from India, from Pakistan, from the Western World, the fundamental principle is the recognition of the Imam of the Time. It is he who interprets the faith. It is he who guides the jamat in the interpretation of its faith at any time during its lifetime. It is he who supports the jamats in various parts of the world, to seek , with the jamat and others, to improve the quality of life of the murids wherever they may be.'

In sum, the fundamental principle of the Ismaili Muslims is that the Imamate must be handed down in perpetuity in direct lineal descent, which has been maintained uninterruptedly for fourteen centuries, ever since Hazrat Ali, who succeeded to the Imamate. His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV is recognised as the 49th Imam in a lineal descendant of Hazrat Ali through Bibi Fatima.

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan had once said, 'The future of the Ismaili faith rests in the hands of the youths of your age and mine. Are we to follow the example of those, who in Egypt, Iran and Sind raised the flag of Ismaili Imams high enough for the world to see its glory? I say, 'yes.' We should not fail where our ancestors achieved glorious success' (vide 'Ilm', London, vol. 8, nos. 2-3, Dec., 1982, p. 11).

We shall say while terminating these pages with a conclusion, that a full account of Aga Khan IV's activities, including a detailed description of his various projects for the Shia Ismaili Muslim communities of different countries, still needs to be written.