Sir Aga Khan III’s birth anniversary
The birth anniversary of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III (2nd
November 1877 to 11th July 1957) is being observed today. 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 Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III played a pivotal role in
making the Pakistan Movement a success by inculcating political
awareness among the Muslims of the sub-continent. To safeguard the
interests of the Indian Muslims, the 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
spokeman 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.”
Aga Khan III 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.