Historical Images: A 1946 Genealogical Chart of Ismaili Imams and a Magnificent Portrait of the Young Prince Karim Aga Khan
Compiled by Malik Merchant
Editor, Simergphotos.com and Simerg.com
THE EVERLIVING DIVINE INSTITUTION OF IMAMAT
INTRODUCTION: Clause G of the “Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution” ordained on December 13, 1986 by the 49th and current Ismaili Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, states:
Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
This principle of direct hereditary descent of the Imam from the Prophet has been championed throughout history by Ismaili missionaries, poets and scholars, often with the support of the following Qur’anic verse:
Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people – offspring, one of the other, and Allah knows and hears all things. (Holy Qur’an, 3:33-34).
Two images in this piece – a genealogical chart and a portrait of Prince Karim – represent and define the principle of direct hereditary descent of the Ismaili Imam from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), starting with Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the first Shia Imam.
1946 SPECIAL DIAMOND JUBILEE SOUVENIR
The All-Africa Celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III took place in Dar-es-Salaam on August 10, 1946. The Ismailia Association of Africa published a special souvenir issue (partial cover page is shown above) with the following forward:
In this eighth month of the year 1946 we are witnessing an even which is as historic as it is unique. In this year, His Highness the Rt. Hon Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan, P.C., G.C.V.O., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., LL.D., etc., is being weighed against diamonds for the second time….The Aga Khan ascended the Holy Throne of Imamate in the year 1885 at the tender age of seven years. In the year 1945 he completed sixty glorious years of his Imamate. The Ismailis of India weighed His Highness against diamonds during March of this year. Now the Ismailis of Africa are paying their homage to their spiritual father by weighing him against diamonds for the second time.
Through these sixty historic years of his rule His Highness has had a career of the utmost devotion and untiring service to the cause of human welfare. The Ismailis owe their all to his profound wisdom and most enlightened leadership. Even though diamonds are the most precious and the most valuable of all minerals, their value is of insignificance compared to the value of the boundless affection and loyalty which the Ismailia community has for him.
Among the several unique images and photos which appear in this splendid volume compiled for the Ismailia Association by Madatali M. Mawjee, we are publishing two as part of this blog’s regular feature, Historical Images.
Genealogy of Ismaili Imams – From the First Imam Mawlana Ali to the Forty-Eighth Imam Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah
The first image, above, is a genealogical depiction of the forty-eight Ismaili Imams through a numbered chain which starts with Hazrat Ali as the first Imam alongide the Imamat crest, and which then continues in an anti-clockwise direction with the popular names of the Imams up to the 48th Imam, Sultan Mahomed Shah. The crest of the Ismaili Imam is flanked by the famous red and green flag of the Ismailis. A portrait of “MAULANA HAZAR IMAM” (i.e. the 48th Imam) appears at the foot of the chart. The dates on either side of the portrait 17.VIII.1885 and 17.VIII.1945 are respectively the date Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah became the 48th Imam (at the age of seven – he was born on November 2, 1877) and the date of the completion of his sixty years of the Imamat.
In a special message for the souvenir, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah says:
“All Ismailis should take an interest, and those who can, an active one in the work of the Ismailia Association of Africa which is necessary if the Ismailis of Africa are to understand the meaning of the Historic Faith with its Glorious Traditions.”
The next image, below, is that of Prince Karim Aga Khan (b. December 13, 1936) who was then 9 years old. In the photo caption published in the souvenir, he is referred to as “the eldest son of the Prince Aly Khan and future successor to the Imamate.” Indeed, Prince Karim, His Highness the Aga Khan IV, did succeed to the Throne of Imamate when he became the 49th Ismaili Imam upon the demise of his grandfather on July 11, 1957. Prince Karim is currently in his 56th year of Imamat.
The Forty-Ninth Imam Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini
Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims — Preamble, Ismaili Constitution
Date posted: March 4, 2013.
Date updated: March 5, 2013
Profile of Malik Merchant at Contributors.
Please also click: The Preamble Of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”
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I attended this event in Dar-es-Salaam as an child and remember it vividly. Our late Imam’s personality still stands clearly in my memory as he also attended our Family Mehmani in Kampala. He came to each unit and sat among us giving Hidayat to the head of the Family, in this case my late father and we all shared it as this was given to him in hearing of all Members. Then He moved on to the next family group, volunteers moved his ‘Gadi’ throne-like seat to the next and the next.
I lived in East Africa as a child and currently own this magazine. If anybody is interested you can email me via firstname.lastname@example.org and make an offer.