138th birth anniversary: A tribute to Sir Aga Khan

aga Sir Aga Khan brought tranquiliyty to the lives of the Muslims. A personality who played an important part in the independence of Pakistan. Born on November 2, 1877, at Honeymoon lodge in Karachi, he was named by his grandfather, Hasan Ali Shah, Aga Khan I. In 1885, after the sad demise of his father, Aga Ali Shah he inherited the seat as the 48th Imam of the Ismaili branch of Shia sect of Muslims. After the demise of his father, his early childhood days were rough and sad. He received his early education under the diligent guidance of his mother Lady Ali Shah. He developed the habit of reading at an early age as 10 and by the age of 13, he could read and write English, and was familiar with French, Persian and Arabic. As described by the popular British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham, he was an assiduous reader. He was so fond of reading that he had built a remarkable library at his home. Sir Aga Khan III rendered his life to serve the Muslims of the sub-continent. It was very soon that he realised Muslims of the sub-continent needed a separate homeland. After the death of the great Muslim leaders, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, the steer of the Muslim’s ship came in the hands of Sir Aga Khan III. In 1906, he gave Muslims of the sub-continent a new identity by bringing the All-India Muslim League into existence. He was a mediator between the Western and Eastern worlds and helped legitimize the status of Muslims in the sub-continent not just a community but as a nation. Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah remained the President of the All-India Muslim League for seven years. Being a strong patron of education, Sir Aga Khan III inculcated the quest for knowledge into the lives of the Muslims of the sub-continent. With his visionary leadership, he understood that only education could uplift the status of the Muslims of India. He pressed upon the need of the establishment of Aligarh University and started a movement of upgrading the status of M.A.O College into a university. He appealed to all the leaders to come forward and contribute for the Muslim university, putting all his efforts towards translating the dream of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan into a reality. Qayyum A Malic writes that once he pulled out his hat in front of a man who was known for his bitter personality. This act left the man in tears and he donated Rs. 15,000 for the cause of the university. Sir Aga Khan III himself donated a generous amount of Rs. 100,000. In the words of Maulana Shibli, “that which could not be achieved by six crore Muslims was accomplished by His Highness the Aga Khan.” In the pursuit of educating people of the sub-continent, he established the Aga Khan School in 1905, in Gwadar. He was also a strong advocate of female education. And in order to empower female education in Pakistan, he established diamond jubilee schools in the 1940s in the mountainous terrains of Northern Pakistan (now Gilgit-Baltistan). Today there are around 159 Aga Khan Schools operating throughout Pakistan. The seed that was sown a century ago by Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, has now grown into the Aga Khan Development Network. His grandson and the present Imam of the Ismaili branch of the Shia sect of Muslims, Prince Karim Aga Khan, is carrying the legacy forward with same vision of empowering the Muslims of the world. “It was from him, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan, that I inherited my present role in 1957. I also inherited from him a deep concern for the advancement of education – especially in the developing world. These two topics – education and development – have been at the heart of my own work over the past fifty yearsn,” said His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan at the annual meeting of the International Baccalaureate 2008. Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah breathed his last on July 11, 1957 and was laid to eternal rest at Aswan, Egypt. In addition to his outstanding services to the world, he has left behind an autobiography of his life entitled “Memoirs of Aga Khan – World Enough and Time”, which is a thorough expression of his life. Today we pay accolade to this great Muslim leader by living our pledge to make Pakistan a peaceful and prosperous land.]]>

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