Muslims of the Subcontinent have a lot to thank him for


The birth anniversary of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III (November 2, 1877 to July 11, 1957) was observed on Wednesday.
Sir Aga Khan III, grandfather of the present spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, Prince Karim Aga Khan, was born in Karachi and spent his entire life serving Muslims with his great intellectual and leadership skills and personal resources.
He will always be remembered as one of the most distinguished and well-reputed leaders and diplomats during Pakistan’s freedom movement. Sir Aga Khan, with his vast experience and personality of international stature, proved to be a responsible and productive mediator between the Western world and the leaders of the Subcontinent.
From every platform, he advocated free, universal, practically-oriented primary education; improved secondary schools for Muslims, and a generous provision of government and private scholarships to enable talented Muslim students to study abroad. The first Aga Khan School was established by Sir Aga Khan in 1905 in Gwadar. Today, there are over 179 Aga Khan Schools all across Pakistan. It was in pursuit of his educational vision that the Aga Khan successfully dedicated himself to the project of transforming the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh into a leading Asian University. He envisaged Aligarh University as “an intellectual and moral capital” for Muslims, a university which would “preach the gospel of free inquiry, of large-hearted toleration and of pure morality”. In recognition of his tireless commitment to the cause of educational development, in 1902 he was, at a young age of 25, unanimously nominated as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council by the viceroy, Lord Curzon.
Sir Aga Khan played a pivotal role in making the Pakistan Movement a success by inculcating political awareness among the Muslims of the Subcontinent. To safeguard the interests of the Indian Muslims, Aga Khan led a long and successful campaign for the principle of separate Muslim representation in the Indian legislature. He strived hard for a cultural renaissance, social regeneration and political rehabilitation of the Muslims.
Under the leadership of Sir Aga Khan, the Simla Deputation brought success and confidence for the Muslims of the subcontinent. The first Muslim political organisation, The All India Muslim League, was formed in 1906 and Sir Aga Khan was chosen as its first president for six years. Sir Aga Khan was also chosen as the spokesman for the Muslim delegation to the first Round Table Conference where Allama Iqbal graciously spoke on the services of the Aga Khan for Muslims and said, “We have placed these demands before the conference under the guidance of Aga Khan whom we all admire and whom Muslims of India love.”
Sir Aga Khan also had the privilege to represent India at the Disarmament Conference and in the League of Nations. Later on, he was unanimously elected as Chairman of the League of Nations or the present United Nations Organisation. He rendered valuable services for the Muslim community in the fields of health, education, social development and economic rehabilitation, which are being carried forward today by Prince Karim Aga Khan under the aegis of the Aga Khan Development Network.
Sir Aga Khan breathed his last on 11 July 1957, and was laid to rest at Aswan in Egypt. His autobiography entitled ‘Memoirs of Aga Khan – World Enough and Time’ is an in-depth reflection of his 80 fulfilling years of life.


  1. A beautiful writeup, very concise and all encompasing, worth a read and retained on the file for posterity. Thanks.

  2. Prince Karim Aga Khan has advanced the vast work of his grandfather and worked tirelessly for the Muslim umah in particular and humanity in general for over five decades. A paragon of humility and an ardent advocate of universal brotherhood, his work has transcended the artificial constraints of caste, creed, race or religion. He is feverishly working to negate the tarnished image of Islam created bysome misguided elements and ignorance of western media.

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