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Aga Khan III

Aga Khan III

Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GCVO, PC (November 2, 1877July 11, 1957) was the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. He was one of the founders and the first president of the All-India Muslim League, and served as President of the League of Nations from 1937-38.

Early life

He was born in Karachi, in British India (now Pakistan), to Aga Khan II and his third wife, Nawab A'lia Shamsul-Muluk, who was a granddaughter of Fath Ali Shah of Persia (Qajar dynasty).

Under the care of his mother, he was given not only that religious and Oriental education which his position as the religious leader of the Ismailis made indispensable, but a sound European training, a boon denied to his father and paternal grandfather. This blending of the two systems of education produced the result of fitting this Muslim chief in an eminent degree both for the sacerdotal functions which pertained to his spiritual position, and for those social duties required of a great and enlightened leader which he was called upon to discharge by virtue of his position. He also attended Eton and Cambridge University.

Career

In 1885, at the age of seven, he succeeded his father as Imam of the Shi'a Isma'ili Muslims.

The Aga Khan traveled in distant parts of the world to receive the homage of his followers, and with the object either of settling differences or of advancing their welfare by pecuniary help and personal advice and guidance. The distinction of a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire was conferred upon him by Queen Victoria in 1897 (and later Knight Grand Commander in 1902 by Edward VII) and he received like recognition for his public services from the German emperor, the sultan of Turkey, the shah of Persia and other potentates.

In 1906, the Aga Khan was a founding member and first president of the All India Muslim League.

In 1934, he was made a member of the Privy Council and served as a member of the League of Nations (1934-37), becoming the President of the League of Nations in 1937.

He was made a "Knight of the Indian Empire" by Queen Victoria, a Grand Commander of the Indian Empire by Edward VII (1902), and a Knight Grand Commander of the Indian Empire by George V (1912).

Race horse owner

He was an owner of thoroughbred racing horses, including a record equalling five winners of the Epsom Derby, and a total of sixteen winners of British Classic Races. He was British flat racing Champion Owner thirteen times. According to Ben Pimlott, biographer of Queen Elizabeth II, the Aga Khan presented Her Majesty with a filly called Astrakhan, who won at Hurst Park Racecourse in 1950.

Equestrianism

In 1926, the Aga Khan gave a cup (the Aga Khan Trophy) to be awarded to the winners of an international team show jumping competition held at the annual horse show of the Royal Dublin Society in Dublin, Ireland every first week in August. It attracts competitors from all of the main show jumping nations and is carried live on Irish national television.

Marriages and children

  • He married, on 2 November 1896, in Poona, India, Shahzadi Begum, his first cousin and a granddaughter of Aga Khan I.
  • He married, in 1908 Cleope Teresa Magliano (1888-1926), a dancer with the Ballet Opera of Monte Carlo. They had two sons: Giuseppe Mahdi Khan (d. February 1911) and Ali Solomone Khan (1911-1960) Teresa, who reportedly had converted to Islam prior to the legal wedding in North Africa and was known as Princess Aga Khan, died in 1926, following an operation on 1 December 1926.
  • He married, on 7 December 1929 (civil), in Aix-les-Bains, France, and 13 December 1929 (religious), in Bombay, India, Andrée Joséphine Carron (1898 - 1976). A former saleswoman in a candy store and a co-owner of a hat shop, she became known as Princess Andrée Aga Khan. She did not convert to Islam. By this marriage, he had one son, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, in 1933. The couple were divorced in 1943.
  • He married, on 9 October 1944, in Geneva, Switzerland, Yvonne Blanche Labrousse (February 1906 - 1 July 2000). According to an interview she gave to an Egyptian journalist, her first name was Yvonne, though she is referred to as Yvette in most published references. The daughter of a tram conductor and a dressmaker, she was working as the Aga Khan's social secretary at the time of their marriage. She had been "Miss Lyon 1929" and "Miss France 1930". She converted to Islam and became known as Umm Habiba (Little Mother of the Beloved). In 1954, her husband named her "Mata Salamat"

Publications

He wrote a number of books and papers two of which are of immense importance namely (1).India in Transition, about the prepartition politics of India and (2).The Memoirs of Aga Khan, his autobiography.

Death and succession

The Aga Khan was succeeded by his grandson Karim Aga Khan, as 'Aga Khan' and is the present Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. At the time of his death on July 11, 1957, his family members were in Versoix. A solicitor brought the will of the Aga Khan III from London to Geneva and read it before the family:

"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."

He is buried in Aswan, Egypt at the Mausoleum of Aga Khan.

See also

References

Additional reading

  • Daftary, F., "The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines" Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Naoroji M. Dumasia, A Brief History of the Aga Khan (1903).
  • Aga Khan III, "Memoirs of Aga Khan: World Enough and Time", London: Cassel & Company, 1954; published same year in the United States by Simon & Schuster.
  • Anne Edwards, "Throne of Gold: The Lives of the Aga Khans", NY: William Morrow, 1996
  • Naoroji M. Dumasia, "The Aga Khan and his ancestors", New Delhi: Readworthy Publications (P) Ltd., 2008

External links

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