For 56th Imamat Anniversary, Magnificent and Unique Historical Portraits of His Highness the Aga Khan
Compiled by Malik Merchant
A UNIQUE PORTRAIT OF MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM, HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN
THE WILL OF IMAM MAWLANA SULTAN MAHOMED SHAH, THE 48TH IMAM
Ever since the time of my first 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 remoter male issue.
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 interests of the Shia Moslem Ismailian 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.
I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my son Aly Salomone Khan to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to be the Imam and Pir of all my Shia Ismailian followers — His Highness the Aga Khan III.
SUCCESSION AND THE NATURE OF IMAMAT
…the [installation] ceremony is a public installation of the Imam. The Ismailis pay homage to the Imam and that is when you are recognised by the world at large as the Imam. Officially as soon as one Imam passes away, his successor takes on from the very minute the Imam has passed away — His Highness the Aga Khan 
A TRIBUTE TO THE 48TH IMAM, AND THE NEW IMAM’S DEDICATION
My grandfather dedicated his life to the Imamat and Islam, both of which came first, and above all other considerations. While I was prepared that one day I might be designated the Aga Khan I did not expect it so soon. I follow a great man in a great responsibility and he could have given me no more appreciated honour than to bequeath me this spiritual leadership. My life, as his, will be dedicated to the service of my followers. –His Highness the Aga Khan.
THE LOVE FOR THE IMAM OF THE TIME
In all four ages,
I went about,
I found none
to match you, my lord.
My lord, my heart
is fond of you. 
ANOTHER UNIQUE PORTRAIT FROM 1957
Date posted: Monday, July 9, 2013.
© All photos are Copyright by the respective copyright owners. Reproduction strictly prohibited without licensing agreement(s) from the copyright sources mentioned in the photo captions.
 Verse 3 translation of Saiyad Imamshah’s ginan Sahebaji tun more mana bhave, from “A Scent of Sandalwood” by Dr. Aziz Esmail.
We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears below or send your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.
Please also visit the literary website www.simerg.com for the following Imamat related readings:
Profile of Malik Merchant at Contributors.