SIND UNIVERSITY CONVOCATION
February 6, 1970
His Royal Highness The Aga Khan Shah Karim Al-Husayni, the Spiritual Leader and the 49th Imam of 20 million Ismaili Muslims living in 33 countries, was born on the 13th December 1936, at Geneva. His Royal Highness had his early schooling in Switzerland and, in the tradition of his illustrious family, he learnt Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Islamic History through eminent scholars. Under the consummate and able guidance and under personal supervision of his father and grandfather, he was brought up, educated and trained for the very high office which he was destined to occupy. He had his further education at the University of Harvard specializing in Islamic History. As a scholar he proved himself outstanding and brilliant from the very beginning. His paper on "The Rise of the Nizaris and the beginning of Da'wat in Indo-Pakistan", written very early in his age, well displays maturity of his thought and profundity of his scholarship.
On July 11th, 1957, at the young age of 21 he became the Imam of the Ismaili community on the death of his famous grandfather, His Royal Highness Sultan Mohammad Shah Aga Khan III. In a short span of 12 years as Imam, His Royal Highness has shown that he is endowed with wisdom, versatility, sagacity and statesmanship, which are characteristic of his noble and great family. In the fast-changing and kaleidoscopic conditions on the continents of Asia and Africa. His Royal Highness has not only guided the socio-economic activities of his own followers, but has also rendered immense material assistance in the economic development of new and young nations, and thereby advanced the well-being, prosperity and stability of the peoples of those countries.
The services of His Royal Highness in the cause of Islam are well-known. He has been following in the footsteps and traditions of his great and noble grandfather, whose name at one time was known to one and all in the Indian sub-continent and whose services to the world of Islam are unparalleled and indelible.
Ismailis in Pakistan are an important part of our nation. They constitute a highly organised community devoted to the cause of development and socio-economic advancement. They have their biggest concentration in this country in West Pakistan and more so in Karachi and in Sind. Historically towards the end of the 9th century, Ismaili families had an effective place on the soil of Sind. During Soomra rule they increased in numbers and prospered. In the days of Soomras, Sind was a place of refuge for scholars from all over the Muslim world and at Thatta prospered the studies in Islamic theology, philosophy, mysticism, history and social institutions. This link of the Ismailis with Sind was further strengthened in the fourteenth century with the coming of that great poet and mystic, Pir Sadruddin as the Ismaili missionary from Iran. He set his first headquarters at Kotri Allah Rakhio Shah, a distance of about 70 miles from here. Pir Sadruddin endeavoured to evolve a new script known as "Chali-Akhri" in which he wrote his deeply mystic poetry in Sindhi language.
The beginning of the nineteenth century marked greater connection and association of the Aga Khan Family with the soil of Sind. During that time the great great grand-father of His Royal Highness, His Highness Aga Hassan Ally Shah Aga Khan 1, took residence here. He came to Jherruck, a distance of 30 miles from here along with members of his family and a band of his devoted followers and warriors. He established close and very intimate and cordial ties with the ruling dynasty of Mirs during the days Of Mir Sher Mohammad Khan known as "The Lion of Sind".
The son of Aga Khan 1, Aga Ali Shah, Aga Khan II, built his palace, or what is known in Sind as "Mahelat" near Jhimpir, a distance of about 25 miles from here. His son, Sultan Mohammad Shah Aga Khan III, was born in Karachi, which was a capital of Sind. Thus your Royal Highness, you are on the soil of your ancestors very much in areas of their early settlement in the sub-continent.
Sultan Mohammad Shah Aga Khan III, loved the soil of Sind, and rendered immense service in the cause of "Separation of Sind". He championed the cause of the "Sind Separation" movement and he carried on a relentless struggle for the separation of Sind from Bombay Presidency. In his capacity as leader of this sub-continent's delegation to the two Round Table Conferences, he strongly advocated the constitution of Sind as a separate Province of India. This demand was accepted and found its enunciation in the Constitutional Act of India and from 1936 Sind was given the status of a separate autonomous Province of this Sub-continent.
Aga Khan III, will always be remembered among the great freedom fighters of this sub-continent. He was the first President of the All-India Muslim League and led the deputation of Muslims of India demanding separate electorates, which in fact, as we all know, became the foundation for the demand of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. To His Highness goes the credit of initiation and encouragement of the Pakistan movement. Prince Aly Khan, the father of His Royal Highness was Pakistan's Permanent Representative at the United Nations and his endeavours in creating solidarity among the Muslims of the world will always be remembered.
In the year 1957, the responsibility of the Imamat fell on the shoulders of His Royal Highness and Pakistan was the country he visited first after his assumption of Imamat. In his Khutba at Karachi he said:
" My grandfather and his associates and co-workers struggled mightily for the establishment of this country. He always had the profoundest faith in the destiny of Pakistan. These views and that faith are mine. This country is in my heart."
His Royal Highness is not only a leader of the Ismaili community but also of the entire Muslim world. During the last 60 years, his family has rendered great services, moral and material, for the advancement of the cause of Muslims all over the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, in recognition of the role that his Royal Highness and his ancestors have played in the world of Islam, in recognition of the services they have rendered in the creation of Pakistan, in recognition of their efforts for the separation of Sind from Bombay Presidency, in recognition of the contribution of the Ismaili community in the social and economic development of Pakistan, in recognition of the fact that His Royal Highness is neither a crowned potentate nor a sceptred king, but still enjoys the supreme distinction of holding sway and ruling over the hearts of men and commands their affection and allegiance, in recognition of his being a noble and brilliant example to the youth of today, in recognition of his patronage of arts, education and learning, and in recognition of his love, sympathy, condescension and affability, his humanity and his generosity, I, having been authorised by the Chancellor and the Syndicate of the University of Sind, confer on His Royal Highness The Aga Khan Shah Karim Al-Hussainy, the Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa).