GOUVIEUX, France, May 30 /PRNewswire/ -- His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims today married German-born Princess Dr. Gabriele zu Leiningen. The private religious and civil ceremonies were held at the Aga Khan's French residence, Aiglemont, in the presence of close family members and twenty leaders of the Ismaili Community and their wives from around the world. The Muslim religious ceremony was conducted by the Rector and the Grand Mufti of the Paris Mosque. The subsequent civil ceremony was performed by the Mayor of Gouvieux, M. Patrice Marchand. This is the second marriage for both the Aga Khan and Princess zu Leiningen. A reception to celebrate the wedding with the families' numerous guests, will take place in France in October. The Aga Khan The Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Community was born in Geneva, on December 13, 1936, son of Prince Aly Khan and Princess Joan Aly Khan. He spent his early youth in Nairobi, Kenya. After attending Le Rosey School, Switzerland, he graduated with Honours in Islamic History from Harvard University in 1959. On July 11, 1957, Prince Karim, then a twenty year old student at Harvard, succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. The Ismaili community of some twelve to fifteen million people live in more than twenty-five countries. Over the past forty years, the Aga Khan has developed and expanded the institutions established by his grandfather while also founding new ones. Today, the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world's largest private sector entities involved in the developing world, includes the Aga Khan Foundation, which is involved in programmes relating to health, education and rural development primarily in countries of South and Central Asia and East and West Africa; the Aga Khan University, the first private university in Pakistan; the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development which promotes private sector industrial, tourism and financial activities in developing countries; and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture which supports programmes fostering a better understanding of Islamic civilisations.SOURCE Aiglemont Information Department
Princess Dr. Gabriele zu Leiningen Princess Dr. Gabriele zu Leiningen was born in Frankfurt-am-Main on April 1, 1963 from the marriage of Renate Thyssen to Helmut Friedhelm Homey. The Princess' mother and her present husband Ernest-Theodor Henne, both successful industrialists, live primarily in Germany and in Switzerland. The Princess, who was educated at Salem School on Lake Constance and at L'Ecole de Roches in Normandy, studied law in Munich and Cologne and graduated magna cum laude with a doctorate in International Law in 1990. She speaks English and French in addition to German. Her daughter Theresa (6) from her first marriage to Karl- Emich Prince zu Leiningen will now live with her mother in Switzerland and France. Princess zu Leiningen is currently a consultant at UNESCO, and the Aga Khan has requested the Begum to continue, for the time being, her work which focuses on the promotion of the status of women and gender equality. Her interest in Islam arose from her work at UNESCO, and she was also influenced by the work of the world-renowned German Islamic scholar Dr. Annemarie Schimmel. On her conversion to Islam, she and the Aga Khan chose for her the Muslim name Inaara, derived from the Arabic word "Nur", meaning "light". The Aga Khan Family The Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam and his wife Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. The hereditary title Aga Khan was conferred on the 46th Imam, Aga Hassanaly Shah by the Shah of Persia in the 19th century. The Aga Khan has three children from his first marriage to the English born Princess Salimah: Princess Zahra (28), who married Mr. Mark Boyden in June 1997, Prince Rahim (27) and Prince Hussain (24), all of whom are pursuing the family tradition of involvement in international affairs and in the welfare of Third World countries. After graduation in 1994 from Harvard (USA), Princess Zahra assumed responsibility, in the Aga Khan's Secretariat at Aiglemont, for the co- ordination of specific social development programmes. Prince Rahim, graduated from Brown University (USA) in 1995 and has responsibilities at the Secretariat in the economic development sector. Prince Hussain, who graduated from Williams College (USA) in 1997, has recently joined the Secretariat where he is involved in the activities of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Mr. Mark Boyden, a graduate of Oxford Brookes University also plays a co-ordinating role in the social and economic development programmes of the Network.