Aga Khan


Aga Khan

Aga Khan ( _fa. آقا خان ) is the hereditary title of the Imam of the Nizārī Muslims, the largest branch of the Ismā'īlī followers ( _ar. الطائفة الإسماعيلية) of the Shī‘a faith. The Ismaili branch of Shia Islam affirms the Imamat of the descendents of Ismail ibn Jafar, eldest son of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, while the mainstream Twelver branch of Shi`ism follows Ismail's younger brother and designated Imam, Musa al-Kazim and his descendents.

History

In the 1830s the honorific title of Aga Khan was bestowed upon Aga Hasan Ali Shah, the 46th Imam of the Ismailis, by Fat′h Ali Shah Qajar, the Shah of Persia. Etymologically the title combines the Turkish military title Agha, meaning a "noble" or "lord", with the Altaic polyvalent title Khan for a local ruler, so the combination means roughly "Commanding Chief". In Persia's Qajar court protocol, Khan (and Amir) was commonly part of commanders of armed forces and provincial tribal leaders which ranked fourth in precedence amongst the eight title classes for non-members of the dynasty. In 1877, the colonial rulers of India, the British Raj, gave the Aga Khan rank and nobility in recognition of the help in suppressing a regional rebellion against the British, thus the Aga Khan became the only religious or community leader in British India granted a personal gun salute; all other salute dynasties were either rulers of Princely States, or Political Pensioners holding ancestral princely titles in states abolished by the Raj.

Incumbent

Prince Karīm al-Hussainī became the present Aga Khan IV upon assuming the Imamat of the Nizari Ismailis on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan (Aga Khan III). In his will, his grandfather stated the conditions that led him to select his grandson as successor to the Ismaili Imamat:

"In view of the fundamentally altered conditions in the world in very recent years due to the great changes that have taken place, including the discoveries of atomic science, I am convinced that it is in the best interests of the Shia Muslim Ismaili 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." ["Aly Khan's Son, 20, New Aga Khan", "The New York Times", 13 July 1957, p. 1]

Prince Karim Aga Khan IV is the 49th Ismaili Imam, tracing their lineage to Ali, cousin of Muhammad, and his wife Fatima, Muhammad's daughter. [Farhad Daftary. "The Ismāʿīlīs: Their history and doctrines."] The title His Highness was granted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1957, and His Royal Highness by the Shah of Iran in 1959. [See [http://www.akdn.org/hh/highness.html] ] [cite web |url=http://ismaili.net/Source/khoj.html |title=Khoja Case before Justice Sir Joseph Arnould, High Court of Bombay, 1886 |accessdate=2006-12-01] [cite web |url=http://ismaili.net/hajibibi.html |title=Haji Bibi Case before Mr. Justice Russell, 1905 - Bombay Law Reporter |accessdate=2006-12-01] On July 11, 2007, Aga Khan was the Imam of Ismaili Muslims for 50 years.

The Aga Khan, heir to the family fortune and a society figure, is founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the largest private development networks in the world. AKDN continues to work with a variety of African and Asian countries to improve living conditions and promote education. For instance, in Afghanistan the AKDN has mobilised over $700 million in development projects. [cite web |url=http://www.akdn.org/afghanistan |title=AKDN in Afghanistan |accessdate=2008-08-26]

Competitions

The annual Aga Khan tournament for field hockey in India began in the late 1800s. ["Aga Khan Hockey Tournament"] , excerpt from "Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand", published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952; posted February 22, 2007, accessed July 9, 2007] Matches of the Aga Khan tournament are held on the grounds of Bombay Gymkhana. [ [http://www.bharatiyahockey.org/granthalaya/goal/1936/page9.htm Aga Khan Tournament] , from the "Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand", published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952]

In 1926, the Aga Khan III gave a cup (the Aga Khan Trophy) to be awarded to the winner of an international show jumping competition held at the annual horse show of the Royal Dublin Society in Dublin, Ireland every first week in August. [ [http://www.dublinhorseshow.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=34 The Aga Khan Trophy] , Dublin Horse Show, accessed July 9, 2007] It attracts competitors from all of the main show jumping nations and is carried live on Irish national television.

List of those who have held the title of Aga Khan

# Aga Khan I = Hasan Ali Shah Mehalatee Aga Khan I (1800–1881), 46th Imam (1817–1881)
# Aga Khan II = Ali Shah Aga Khan II (about 1830–1885), 47th Imam (12 April 1881–1885)
# Aga Khan III = Prince Sultan Mohammed, (1877–1957), 48th Imam (17 August 1885–1957)
# Aga Khan IV = Prince Karim Al Husseini (b. 1936), 49th Imam of the Ismailis (from 11 July 1957)

References

ources

* [http://www.iis.ac.uk/ The Institute of Ismaili Studies]
* [http://www.theismaili.org/ The Ismaili]
* [http://www.akdn.org/ The Aga Khan Development Network]
* [http://www.agakhanfilm.org/ Aga Khan and the Ismailis - FILM]
* [http://www.worldbank.org/ The World Bank]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Religious_Organizations.html#Ismeaili%20Khans WorldStatesmen- Religious Organisations]
* [http://www.4dw.net/royalark/India/salute.htm RoyalArk- India] & [http://www.4dw.net/royalark/Persia/persia-titles.htm Qajar Persia]
* [http://www.sipa.columbia.edu/news_events/announcements/aga_khan.html Aga Khan article at SIPA (Columbia University)]
* [http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/1995-96/95-147i.html Brown University President Vartan Gregorian's introduction of the Aga Khan (1996 baccalaureate address)]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6137720 Interview on NPR, 25 September 2006: "Aga Khan Speaks Out on Understanding of Muslims"]

ee also

*Ismaili
*Nizari
*Aga Khan Development Network
*Aga Khan University
*Aga Khan Foundation


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