Aga Khan IV

Aga Khan IV

Infobox Person
name = Prince Karīm al-Hussaynī Āgā Khān IV

caption = HH Āgā Khān IV, Imam of the Nizari Ismailis (wearing the Companion Order of Canada medal)
birth_date = Birth date and age|1936|12|13|mf=y
birth_place = Geneva, Switzerland
death_date =
death_place =
occupation =
spouse = Princess Salimah Āgā Khān (1969 – 1995) Begum Inaara Āgā Khān (1998 – current)
parents = Prince Aly Khān Joan, Viscountess Camrose
children = Princess Zahra Āgā Khān Prince Rahim Āgā Khān Prince Hussain Āgā Khān Prince Aly Muhammad Āgā Khān

Karīm al-Hussaynī, Āgā Khān IV, KBE, CC, GCC, GCIH ( _ar. سمو الأمیر شاہ کریم الحسیني آغا خان الرابع) (born December 13, 1936) is the 49th and current Imām of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He has been in this position, and held the title of Āgā Khān, since July 11, 1957. The Āgā Khān is responsible for the interpretation of the faith for his followers and as part of the office of the Imamate, endeavors to improve the quality of their lives and of the communities in which they live. In the Shia tradition of Islam, it is the mandate of the Imam of the time to safeguard the individual's right to personal intellectual search and to give practical expression to the ethical vision of society that the Islamic message inspires.

The Āgā Khān is referred to by members of his community as Mawlana "Hāzar Imām" (حاضر إمام, "Present Imām"). [cite web |url= |title=Khoja Case before Justice Sir Joseph Arnould, High Court of Bombay, 1886 |accessdate=2006-12-01] [cite web |url= |title=Haji Bibi Case before Mr. Justice Russell, 1905 - Bombay Law Reporter |accessdate=2006-12-01] Since his ascension to the Imamate, the Āgā Khān has witnessed complex political and economic changes which have affected his followers, including independence of African countries from colonial rule, expulsion of Asians from Uganda, the independence of Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan from the former Soviet Union, and continuing turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Āgā Khān has been particularly interested in the elimination of global poverty; the advancement of the status of women; the promotion of Islamic culture, art, and architecture; and furthering pluralistic values in society. He is the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the largest private development networks in the world, which works towards social, economic, and cultural development in Asia and Africa.

Birth and childhood

Born Prince [ Karim Aga Khan] , the [ Aga Khan IV] is the eldest son of Prince Aly Khān, a Pakistani leader of independence (1911–1960) and his first wife, French-born Princess Tajudowlah, formerly the Hon. Joan Barbara Yarde-Buller (1908–1997). Born in Geneva, Switzerland on December 13, 1936, Karim Khan was declared healthy despite being born prematurely.cite book | title=The Aga Khans| last=Frischauer| first=Willi| year=1970| publisher=The Bodley Head Ltd| location=London] The Āgā Khān's brother, Prince Amyn, was born less than a year later. Their parents divorced in 1949 and Prince Aly Khān later married American actress Rita Hayworth, with whom he had a daughter, Princess Yasmin Āgā Khān, half-sister of the Āgā Khān.

The Āgā Khān spent his childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, [G. Pascal Zachary, [ "Do Business and Islam Mix? Ask Him"] , "New York Times", July 8, 2007] where his early education was done by private tutoring. His grandfather, Āgā Khān III, engaged Mustafa Kamil, a scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, for both Prince Karim and Prince Amyn. The Āgā Khān later attended the Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland. He graduated from Harvard University in 1959 with a BA honors degree in Islamic history. In 2005, he was awarded a honorary doctorate by the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Notably, Aga Khan skied for Turkey and Iran in the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.


The Āgā Khān married English fashion model Sarah (Sally) Croker-Poole, titled "HH Begum Salima Āgā Khān", on 22 October 1969 (civil) and 28 October 1969 (religious), at his home in Paris, France. The couple were married for 25 years, during which they had three children: Princess Zahra Āgā Khān (b. September 18, 1970), Prince Rahim Āgā Khān (b. October 12, 1971), and Prince Hussain Āgā Khān (b. April 10, 1974). Their marriage ended by divorce in 1995.

The Āgā Khān married his second wife, HSH Dr. Gabriele Princess of Leiningen (née Gabriele Thyssen), in Aiglemont on 30 May 1998. Prior to the marriage, the bride converted to Islām, and the couple jointly chose the bride's new Muslim name "Inaara" (derived from Arabic "nur", meaning "light"). She is now the "HH the Begum Āgā Khān". By her, the Āgā Khān has a son, Prince Aly Muhammad Āgā Khān (b. 7 March 2000), and a stepdaughter, HSH Princess Theresa of Leiningen, who is 110th in line to the throne of the United Kingdom. On 8 October 2004, an announcement was made that the Āgā Khān and the Begum Āgā Khān were to seek a divorce. [ [ Princess Inaara Foundation ] ]

Personal Wealth and Income

The Āgā Khān's personal wealth has been estimated as exceeding $1 billion. [cite web
url =
title = Power and glory: an Aga Khan saga
publisher = The Independent
date = 2007-07-14
accessdate = 2008-06-02
] His annual income is estimated to be $300m. Business interests include hotels and airlines, and he has also invested in a tourist complex in Sardinia. [cite web
url =
title = Aga Khan's paradise
publisher = The Guardian
date = 2007-08-15
accessdate = 2008-06-02
] The Aga Khan is also the richest non-land owning royal in the world. His personal wealth exceeds that of the Queen. His main source of income is through horse racing and investing in stocks, companies and material goods.

Imamat of Shi'a Ismaili Community

Following the death of his grandfather, Sultan Muhammed Shah Āgā Khān, Prince Karim, at the age of 20, became the 49th Imām of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, bypassing his father, Prince Aly Khān, and his uncle, Prince Sadruddin Āgā Khān, who were in the direct line of succession.

In his will, the Āgā Khān III explained the rationale for choosing his eldest grandson as his successor:

"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 Khān's Son, 20, New Āgā Khān", The New York Times, 13 July 1957, p. 1]

In light of the sentiments expressed in his grandfather's will, the Āgā Khān has sometimes been referred to by Ismailis as the Imam of the Atomic Age.cite book | title=Islam's Quiet Revolutionary: The Story of Aga Khan the Fourth| last=Thobani| first=Akbarali| year=1993| publisher=Vantage Press| location=]

Upon becoming the Imam, the Āgā Khān stated that he intended to continue the work his grandfather had pursued in building modern institutions to improve the quality of life of the Ismaili community. "Takht nashini" (installation) ceremonies occurred at several locations over 1957 and 1958. During this time, the Āgā Khān emphasized to his followers the importance of fostering positive relations amongst peoples of different races; such a message was highly appropriate given the racially tense atmosphere in East Africa. During the installation ceremonies in the Indian subcontinent, he stressed his commitment to improving the quality of life of Ismailis and encouraged cooperation with individuals of other faiths and races. The main themes that the Āgā Khān emphasized during these first few months of his Imamat were development, education, interracial harmony, and faith in religion.

The Āgā Khān has described his role as Imam as being a guide to Ismailis in the daily practice of Shia Islam, a duty which requires an understanding of Ismailis and their relationship with their geographic location and their time. He elaborated on this concept in a 2006 speech in Germany stating,

The role and responsibility of an Imam, therefore, is both to interpret the faith to the community, and also to do all within his means to improve the quality, and security of their daily lives.cite book | title=Address by His Highess the Āgā Khān to the Tuting Evangelical Academy Upon Receiving the "Tolerance" Award| last=| first=| date=20 May 2006|| location=Germany]
This engagement is not limited to the Ismaili community but also extends to the people with whom the Ismailis share their lives, locally and internationally.cite book | title=Address by His Highess the Āgā Khān at Graduation Ceremony of the Masters of Public Affairs Programme at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris| last=| first=| date=15 June 2007|| location=Paris]

Promotion of Islamic architecture

In 1977, the Aga Khan established the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, an award recognizing excellence in architecture that encompasses contemporary design and social, historical, and environmental considerations. It is the largest architectural award in the world and is granted triennially. The award grew out of the Aga Khan’s desire to revitalize creativity in Islamic societies and acknowledge creative solutions to needs for buildings and public spaces. The recipient is selected by an independent master jury convened for each cycle. In 1979, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) both established the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA), which is supported by an endowment from the Aga Khan. These programs provide degree courses, public lectures, and conferences for the study of Islamic architecture and urbanism. Understanding contemporary conditions and developmental issues are key components of the academic program.cite book | title=AKPIA (Academic Brochure)| last=Harvard University| first=Massachusetts Institute of Technology|]

Aga Khan Development Network

The Aga Khan is founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network ( [ AKDN] ), one of the largest private development networks in the world. Its partners include numerous governments and several international organizations. AKDN agencies operate in social and economic development as well as in the field of culture, with special focus on countries of the Third World.

The network includes the Aga Khan University ( [ AKU] ), the University of Central Asia ( [ UCA] ), the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development ( [ AKFED] ), the Aga Khan Trust for Culture ( [ AKTC] ), the Aga Khan Foundation ( [ AKF] ), the Aga Khan Health Services ( [ AKHS] ), the Aga Khan Education Services ( [ AKES] ), the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services ( [ AKPBS] ), and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance ( [ AKAM] ). The Aga Khan Award for Architecture ( [ AKAA] )is the largest architectural award in the world.

Focus Humanitarian Assistance [ (FOCUS)] , an affiliate of the AKDN, is responsible for emergency response in the face of disaster. Recent examples include the massive earthquake in Pakistan ( [ AKDN earthquake response] ) and the South Asian Tsunami.

He is also the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which he founded in 1977.

Significant recent or current projects led by the Āgā Khān include the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and the Global Centre for Pluralism ( [ GCP] ) in Ottawa, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Al-Azhar Park ( [] ) in Cairo, and a network of full IB residential schools known as the "Aga Khan Academies" ( [ AKA] }.See [] In 2002, Aga Khan pledged $75 million for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The pledge was the largest by any single donor and more than many countries.

The Aga Khan has expressed concern about the work of the AKDN being described as philanthropy. In his address to the Tutzing Evangelical Academy in Germany, he described this concern:

Reflecting a certain historical tendency of the West to separate the secular from the religious, they often describe [the work of the AKDN] either as philanthropy or entrepreneurship. What is not understood is that this work is for us a part of our institutional responsibility -- it flows from the mandate of the office of Imam to improve the quality of worldly life for the concerned communities.cite book | title=Address by His Highess the Aga Khan to the Tuting Evangelical Academy Upon Receiving the "Tolerance" Award| last=| first=| date=20 May 2006|| location=Germany]


* Titles of His Highness granted by Her Majesty the Queen of England (1957)
* and His Royal Highness by His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Iran (1959)


* Commander of the Order of Merit, Mauritania (1960)
* Grand Cross of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, Portugal (1960)
* Grand Cross of the National Order, Ivory Coast (1965)
* Grand Cross of the National Order, Upper Volta (1965)
* Grand Cross of the National Order, Madagascar (1966)
* Grand Cross of the Order of the Green Crescent, Comoros, (1966)
* Grand Cordon of the Order of the Crown of Iran, Nishan-i-Taj-i-Iran (1967)
* Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan, (1970)
* Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (1977)
* Grand Officer of the National Order of the Lion, Senegal (1982)
* Nishan-e-Pakistan (1983)
* Grand Cordon of Ouissam-al Arch, Morocco (1986)
* Knight of Labour, Cavaliere del Lavoro, Italy (1988)
* Commander of the Legion of Honour, France (1990)
* Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit, Spain (1991)
* Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, Portugal (1998)
* Order of Friendship, Tajikistan (1998)
* Order of Bahrain (First Class) (2003)
* Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE), United Kingdom (2004) [LondonGazette|issue=57155|startpage=24|supp=yes|date=31 December 2003|accessdate=2007-11-15]
* Honorary Companion of the Order of Canada (2005) [cite web |url= |title=Aga Khan, C.C. - Order of Canada |accessdate=2006-12-07]
* Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ, Portugal (2005)
* Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart, Kenya (2007) [ [ Kenya: Country Honours Aga Khan (Page 1 of 1) ] ]
* Grand Cross of the National Order of Mali (2008)

Honorary degrees

* LL.D. (honoris causa) University of Peshawar, Pakistan (1967)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) University of Sind, Pakistan (1970)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) McGill University, Canada (1983)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) McMaster University, Canada (1987)
* D. Litt. (honoris causa) University of London, United Kingdom (1989)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) University of Wales, United Kingdom (1993)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) Brown University, USA (1996)
* Honorary Professorship of the University of Osh, Kyrgyzstan (2002)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) University of Toronto, Canada (2004)
* Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, American University of Beirut, Lebanon (2005)
* Honorary Doctorate, University of Évora, Portugal (2006)
* Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, American University in Cairo, Egypt (2006)
* Honorary Doctorate, University of Sankoré, Mali (2008)
* LL.D. (honoris causa) Harvard University, USA (2008)
* LL.D.(honoris causa), National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland (2008)


* Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal in Architecture, University of Virginia, USA (1984)
* Honorary Membership, Pakistan Medical Association, Sind, Pakistan (1981)
* Institute Honor of the American Institute of Architects, USA (1984)
* Honorary Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP), Pakistan (1985)
* Gold Medal of the Consejo Superior de Colegios de Arquitectos, Spain (1987)
* Honorary Citizen of Granada, Spain (1991)
* Honorary Fellowship, Royal Institute of British Architects, United Kingdom (1991)
* Silver Medal of the Académie d'Architecture, France (1991)
* Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects, USA (1992)
* Honorary Citizen of the City of Samarkand, Uzbekistan (1992)
* Hadrian Award, World Monuments Fund, USA (1996)
* Key to the City of Lisbon, Portugal (1996)
* Gold Medal of the City of Granada, Spain (1998)
* Archon Award, International Nursing Honour Society, Sigma Theta Tau International, Sweden (2001)
* Insignia of Honour, International Union of Architects, France (2001)
* State Award for Peace and Progress, Kazakhstan (2002)
* Honorary Citizen of the Islamic Ummah of Timbuktu, Mali (2003)
* Vincent Scully Prize, National Building Museum, USA (2005)
* Honorary Citizen of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2005)
* Key to the City of Ottawa, Canada (2005)
* Die Quadriga Award, Germany (2005)
* Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, UK (2005)
* Tolerance Prize of the Evangelical Academy of Tutzing, Germany (2006)
* Key to the City of Austin, USA (2008)
* Citizen of Honour of the Municipality of Timbuktu, Mali (2008)
* Associate Foreign Member, Académie des Beaux-Arts, France (2008)

Thoroughbred horse racing

At his Aiglemont estate, at Gouvieux in the Picardie region of France, about 4 kilometres west of the Chantilly Racecourse, he operates the largest horse racing and breeding operation in the country. In 1977, he paid £1.3 million for the bloodstock owned by Anna Dupré and in 1978, £4.7 million for the bloodstock of late Marcel Boussac.Fact|date=August 2008

The Aga Khan owns Gilltown Stud near Kilcullen, Ireland and Haras de Bonneval breeding farm at Le Mesnil-Mauger in France. In March 2005, he purchased the famous Calvados stud farms, the Haras d'Ouilly in Pont-d'Ouilly and the Haras de Val-Henry in Livarot. Haras d'Ouilly had been owned by such famous horsemen as the Duc Decazes, François Dupré and Jean-Luc Lagardère.

In 2006, the Aga Khan became the majority shareholder of Arqana, a French horse auction house.Fact|date=August 2008


By HH Begum Salima Āgā Khān (formerly Sarah (Sally) Croker-Poole);
* Princess Zahra Āgā Khān (b. September 18, 1970)
* Prince Rahim Āgā Khān (b. October 12, 1971)
* Prince Hussain Āgā Khān (b. April 10, 1974)

By HH Begum Inaara Aga Khan HSH (formerally Dr. Gabriele Princess of Leiningen (née Gabriele Thyssen));
* Prince Aly Muhammad Āgā Khān (b. March 7, 2000)
* HSH Princess Theresa of Leiningen (stepdaughter)

References and notes

See also

* Aga Khan
* Begum Aga Khan
* Nizari Ismailis
* Hotel Cala di Volpe

External links

* [ About His Highness the Aga Khan (AKDN)]
* [ AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE: the Aga Khan and the Ismailis - Film of HH the Aga Khan IV]
* [ About His Highness the Karim Aga Khan]
* [ About Her Highness the Begum Aga Khan (PIF)]
* [ Aga Khan Development Network]
* [ The Institute of Ismaili Studies]
* [ The Institute of Ismaili Studies: Introduction to His Highness the Aga Khan and Selected Speeches]
* [ The Institute of Ismaili Studies]
* [ Aga Khan article at SIPA (Columbia University)]
* [ Brown University President Vartan Gregorian's introduction of the Aga Khan (1996 baccalaureate address)]
* [ The Ismaili website]

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