Simergphotos: Celebrating Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 78th Salgirah (Birthday) With a Rich Collection of Photos and Quotes

Compiled and Prepared by Malik Merchant
Editor, Simergphotos and Simerg

The images and quotes published below represent: Mawlana Hazar Imam’s family; the Imam’s affection and love for all his murids; the breadth and scope of his Imamat work around the world through the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN); the worldwide admiration, respect and warmth that is shown to him by leaders at all levels; and the inspiration and motivation that he provides to his beloved spiritual children to contribute and shine in their endeavours at a personal level, as well as through the extraordinary community institutional framework that he has created. We hope you enjoy these pictures, and invite you to submit photos from your family archives for publication on this blog to

agakhan78-001Mawlana Hazar Imam is seen ordaining a new constitution for the worldwide Ismaili community on the occasion of his 50th Salgirah (birthday) on December 13th, 1986.

“The authority of the Imam in the Ismaili Tariqah is testified by Bay‘ah by the murid to the Imam which is the act of acceptance by the murid of the permanent spiritual bond between the Imam and the murid. This allegiance unites all Ismaili Muslims worldwide in their loyalty, devotion and obedience to the Imam within the Islamic concept of universal brotherhood. It is distinct from the allegiance of the individual murid to his land of abode.” — Preamble, the Ismaili Constitution

The New Prince Karim Aga Khan Iv In Switzerland After The Death Of The Aga Khan Iii

A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam taken shortly after he assumed the office of Imamat after his grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, passed away on July 11, 1957. The late Imam’s framed picture appears in the background. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

The New Prince Karim Aga Khan Iv In Switzerland After The Death Of The Aga Khan Iii

A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, during his enthronement in Geneva, Switzerland shortly after his grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, passed away on July 11, 1957. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris. Copyright.

agakhan78-028Mawlana Hazar Imam just after the memorial service for his late grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, in Woking, Surrey. © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS


This photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam appeared  in a special Diamond Jubilee Souvenir published in 1946 by the Ismailia Association of Africa to commemorate the completion of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s 60 years of Imamat. Photo: Sadruddin Khimani Family Collection, Vancouver, Canada.

agakhan78-045The late 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah (2 November 1877 – 11 July 1957), pictured with his children and grandchildren. Standing from left to right – grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, his two sons, Prince Sadruddin (17 January 1933 – 12 May 2003) and Prince Aly Khan (13 June 1911 – 12 May 1960) with his daughter Princess Yasmin, and grandson Prince Karim, the present Imam. Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

agakhan78-103 Mawlana Hazar Imam arriving at his Karachi enthronement ceremony, accompanied by Prime Minister Mirza of Pakistan.


“The Good One”, Mixed Media, Oil on Canvas (Original Size 48″ x 36″), with print of an original Bernard Sarfran oil painting of Mawlana Hazar Imam transposed onto canvas. Sides of canvas carry the attributes “The Generous”, “Light”, “The Majestic” and “One who is Good” in a West African Script. Painting by Hawa, 2004. Malik Merchant Collection.

agakhan78-027Mawlana Hazar Imam seen waving from a South African Airways plane as he departs the former Portuguese colonial city of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, after a 3 day stay May 1958. Photo: Jehangir Merchant collection.

agakhan78-024Mawlana Hazar Imam showing immense delight of the gift of trinite presented to him during his visit to the Health Research Laboratory in Las Alamos, California, in November 1959. See story below.




President John F. Kennedy meets with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, at the Oval Office, White House, on March 14, 1961. The 49th Ismaili Imam had first met the President in France some six years earlier. Photo: Robert L. Knudsen (Robert LeRoy), 1929-1989.

“Historically and in accordance with Ismaili tradition, the Imam of the time is concerned with spiritual advancement as well as improvement of the quality of life of his murids. The imam’s ta‘lim lights the murid’s path to spiritual enlightenment and vision. In temporal matters, the Imam guides the murids, and motivates them to develop their potential.” — Preamble, the Ismaili Constitution.

Aga Khan IV As A Harvard StudentMawlana Hazar Imam graduated from Harvard University in 1959 with a BA Honours in Islamic History. In this portrait photo taken in 1958 on the Harvard campus, he is seen in a Harvard University blazer carrying an armful of books. Copyright: Photo by Hank Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.


Mawlana Hazar Imam in a group photo taken in 1961 outside the nurses quarters of the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi on the occasion of the presentation of recommendations by the Constitutional Review Committees of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania (then Tanganyika). Photo: (Late) Ameer Janmohamed Collection. 


Mawlana Hazar Imam keenly watches as a student appears to tackle an art assignment during his visit to the Aga Khan Primary School approximately in the early 1960’s. Photo: Late Mrs. Jean Kirk Family Collection. Credit: Daughter, Allison Wallace, Australia.


Mawlana Hazar Imam with leaders and teachers of Lourenço Marques on the front staircase of the Jamatkhana during his 3-day visit to Mozambique in 1958. Mrs. Maleksultan Merchant is in second row at left, and Mr. Jehangir Merchant is seen immediately behind Mawlana Hazar Imam in a light grey blazer. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.


A signed photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam in traditional Burmese dress during his visit to Burma Jamat in 1960 where he also celebrated Navroz, the Persian New Year, with the Jamat. Photo: Anver Virani Collection, Ottawa.

agakhan78-017Ahamed Ismail seen reciting Qur’anic verses during the opening of the Aga Khan Primary School in Dar-es-Salaam, with the patron of the school, Mawlana Hazar Imam, next to him. Photo: Ahamed Ismail Family Collection.

agakhan78-049Mawlana Hazar Imam with a group of Kenyan Ismaili ladies. Kamadiani Fatma Kassam (back row, centre, behind Mawlana Hazar Imam), Mukhiani Valimohamed, and Dr. Jinnah (standing third from right) are among the recognizable individuals in the photo. The exact date of this photo is not known but it appears to be from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. Photo: Nashir Kassam Family Collection.


Mawlana Hazar Imam in a group photo with Ismaili office bearers in Kenya. Standing second from right and immediately behind Mawlana Hazar Imam are Mukhi Valimohamed and Kamadia Nurmohamed Kassam of Eastleigh Jamatkhana. Another recognizable individual is Dr. Jinnah, seated in front row, second from right. Photo: Nashir Kassam Family Collection

agakhan78-048Mawlana Hazar Imam being respectfully greeted by Ramzanali Kassam at a public function held in Nairobi, Kenya. The exact date of this photo is not known but it appears to be from the late 1950’s or very early 1960’s. Photo: Nashir Kassam Collection. Copyright.

agakhan78-047Happy and excited students look on as their teacher, Ms Khatoon Mawani (nee Ahmed), greets Mawlana Hazar Imam during his visit to the Aga Khan Primary School, Parklands, Nairobi, Kenya, in 1966. Photo: Nashir Kassam.

agakhan78-026Mawlana Hazar Imam during his mulaqat with the jamat in Dar-es-Salaam in 1966. The right arm of the chair shows the walking stick he was carrying in order to support a previous foot injury. Mawlana Hazar Imam had briefly departed East Africa for a treatment, and returned a few days later with the stick. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.


Mawlana Hazar Imam at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the World Ismaili Socio-Economic Conference in Geneva in January 1967, where he announced the establishment of the Aga Khan Foundation.


The obverse and reverse of a silver coin minted on the occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 10th Imamat anniversary which was commemorated on July 11, 1967. Photo: Jehangir Merchant collection.

agakhan78-110Mawlana Hazar Imam receives his first ever Honorary Degree on November 30, 1967 at the age of 31 from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan.


Ismaili journalist Mansoor Ladha, now based in Alberta, interviewing Mawlana Hazar Imam in 1970 for Tanzania’s daily, The Standard (now Daily News). Photo: Mansoor Ladha Collection. Copyright.


Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured with Ismaili scholars and leaders of the Ismaili community at the World Ismailia Association Conference held in Paris in April 1975, where a decision was taken to establish an institution for Ismaili Studies. The Institute of Ismaili Studies was then established in December 1977. Photo: Ilm magazine, UK, October 1975.

agakhan78-025Mawlana Hazar Imam in a traditional cap and a scarf during his visit to Pakistan in 1976. Photo: Ilm Supplement, 1976.


A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam taken during his visit to Pakistan in 1976. Photo: Ilm Supplement, 1976.


The logo of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Mawlana Hazar Imam announced the creation of the Award during his visit to Pakistan in 1976. The logo was designed by Karl Schlamminger, a German Muslim of the Shia tradition. The Name of Allah in Kufic Script, reflecting Itself and repeating Itself, forms the basis of the logo design.

agakhan78-113Mawlana Hazar Imam at a Jamati Mulaqat at Hasanabad, Mumbai, during one of his visits to India in the 1960’s. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.

agakhan78-101Begum Salimah and Ismaili leaders look on as Mawlana Hazar Imam lays the foundation stone of an Ismaili Jamatkhana at Methan, Sidhpur, in India on his visit there on January 22, 1978. Photo: Studio La-Bella, Mumbai. Jehangir Merchant Collection.

agakhan78-052Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured with Ismaili leaders at the Toronto International Centre as he celebrates his 42nd birthday with a cake in front of a large gathering of Ismailis during his visit to Toronto, Canada, in November 1978. The 49th Shia Ismaili Imam was on the final leg of his first ever visit to his community in Canada after they had settled in large numbers in the country during the early 1970′s.


A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam: Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.

agakhan78-033Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured at the Olympia Hall, London, during his week long visit to the United Kingdom Jamat in September 1979. Seated next to him on the stage are Mukhi Noordin Jivraj and Kamadia Nizar Dhanani. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.

agakhan78-115Mawlana Hazar Imam receives a framed set of 3 Fatimid coins and the UK Ismailia Association’s annual report from the President of the Ismailia Association, Dr. Aziz Kurwa, during his week long 1979 visit to the UK Jamats. The presentation took place during a special mulaqat with students. Standing respectfully on either side are the Mukhi/Mukhiani of the student jamat.  Photo: Ilm magazine.


Mawlana Hazar Imam during his visit to London in 1979. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.

agakhan78-068Mawlana Hazar Imam with Bruno Freschi (left) and Honourable Henry Bell-Irving at the foundation ceremony of the Burnaby Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, on July 26 1982. Mawlana Hazar Imam said in his speech: “This will be a place of congregation, of order, of peace, of prayer, of hope, of humility, and of brotherhood. From it should come forth those thoughts, those sentiments, those attitudes which bind men together and which unite.” Photo: Bruno Freschi Collection.


Mawlana Hazar Imam’s personal handwritten message to Bruno Freschi, the architect of the Burnaby Ismaili Centre.


A unique and historical photo signed by the late Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, which was taken in the Prime Minister’s Office during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee visit to Canada in April 1983. (l to r) – Farouk Verjee (Hon. Sec National Council), Mr. Gerry Wilkinson (His Highness the Aga Khan’s Secretariat, Aiglemont, France), Hon. Sec Mohamed Manji (Ontario Council), President Amirali Rahemtulla (Grants Council), Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, President Mehboob Dhanani (Ontario Council) and President Zulficar Lalji (National Council). The full signature line note from the Prime Minister read: “To Farouk with the best of Memories . Trudeau. 1983.” Photo: Farouk Verjee Collection, Vancouver.

agakhan78-015Mawlana Hazar Imam speaking at the opening of the Ismaili Centre in London. Seated are British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the President of the UK Ismaili Council, Anil Ishani. Photo: Derek Rowe, Roshni Magazine, USA.

agakhan78-112A mosaic portrait in lapis-lazuli of Mawlana Hazar Imam made by the late Pakistani Ismaili artist, Gulgee. The outstanding work can be seen at the Ismaili Centre in London. Photo credit: Ismailimail.

agakhan78-100Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Late Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai share a moment in Los Angeles, USA, in 1983.


Mawlana Hazar Imam with the serving team at the rooftop of the Ismaili Centre in London, England, where Ismaili leaders had gathered for a meeting with their Imam on July 24, 1989. Photo: Shamash Nanjijuma Collection.agakhan78-082

Mawlana Hazar Imam with Ismaili leaders at the rooftop of the London Ismaili Centre as they take a luncheon break from a meeting held on July 24, 1989. Photo: Shamash Nanjijuma Collection.


“It is the desire and Hidāyat of Mawlana Hazar Imam that the constitutions presently applicable to the Ismaili Muslims in different countries be superseded and that the Ismaili Muslims worldwide be given this constitution in order better to secure their peace and unity, religious and social welfare, to foster fruitful collaboration between different peoples, to optimise the use of resources, and to enable the Ismaili Muslims to make a valid and meaningful contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of the Ummah and the societies in which they live.” — Preamble, the Ismaili Constitution


The breadth and scope of the work of Mawlana Hazar Imam for the wider global community, Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike, is illustrated through this organization chart. The chart does not include the organizational structure of the Ismaili community with all the Jamati institutions which include the National and Local Councils as well as numerous boards which look after the spiritual and material welfare and well-being of the Ismaili community. Each country has a similar jamati institutional framework, wherever possible. agakhan78-095

Ismaili children and youth in Kitchener, Ontario, show support for Imamat endeavours such as the Aga Khan Foundation Annual Partnership Walk which is held in numerous cities across Canada and the USA. Photo: Malik Merchant.


The logo of the Aga Khan Health Services, another Imamat endeavour, under the AKDN umbrella. The emblem symbol on the tea set represents health care and compassion. The crescent is an ancient icon which, when used in red, has become the equivalent of the International Red Cross. The three-crescent design in its simple, poetic form creates an internal space symbolising how institutions and programmes using the symbol surround, attend and care for those in need. Photo: Flickr photostream prondis_in_kenya. Copyright: Isabelle Prondzynski.


Akber Kanji’s digital portrait entitled “The closer you come the more you will see Him” incorporates hundreds of thumbnail images representing the magnificent work of Mawlana Hazar Imam. The thumbnails are seen more clearly in the enlarged facial expression shown below. Photo: Akber Kanji. Copyright.



agakhan78-057Mawlana Hazar Imam shows keen interest in Principal Zul Khoja’s explanation of a curricular activity implemented to introduce creative and critical thinking among students at the Aga Khan School in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Mawlana Hazar Imam visited the school in 1993 and, as Khoja recalls,  “When I escorted the party into the school, it took the Imam less than 30 seconds to fully understand what was being accomplished in the school.” Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.


Eye surgeon Badrudin Kurwa performs cataract surgery in Northern Pakistan as part of his Golden Jubilee Nazrana contribution of Time and Knowledge (TKN) to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Badruddin Kurwa Collection.



Mawlana Hazar Imam is seen delivering his irshad mubarak to  Ismailis and non-Ismailis in Rushan, Badakhshan, on May 27, 1995 during his historic first visit to the Central Asian Jamats. He referred to the natural surrounding and observed: “The Qur’an refers very often to nature as a reflection of Allah’s power of creation, and it says, look at the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the flowers, as evidence of Allah’s love for the people whom He has created. Today, I look at the environment and I say to you, I believe Allah is smiling upon you, and may His smile always be upon you.”


Mawlana Hazar Imam during his visit to Murghab on May 26, 1995. He told his audience who comprised of Ismaili and non-Ismaili Muslims: “Today, the Ummah is constituted of hundreds of millions of Muslims and who are bound by their faith – the Shahada, La-illaha-Ilallah Muhammadur Rasullillah – and yet, who over centuries have come to live in different climates, speak different languages and who differentiate in some interpretations of their faith.” At a Mulaqat at Ishkahim on May 27, 1995, Mawlana Hazar Imam said: “Differences must be resolved within the ethic of our faith, through dialogue, through compassion, through tolerance, through generosity, through forgiveness.” Referring to the diversity of the Muslim world and the differences in interpretations of the faith Mawlana Hazar Imam said in Khorog on 24 May 1995: “Nothing is gained by imposing one interpretation upon people disposed to another. Indeed the effect of such coercion is a denial of the principles of the faith….Shia and Sunni can co-exist and co-operate, true to their own interpretations of Islam but confederates in faith…Human genius is found in its variety, which is a work of Allah.”


 Mawlana Hazar Imam being bestowed with the Order of Friendship by President Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan on September 22, 1998 in Dushanbe, thus becoming the first foreign recipient of the country’s highest civilian honour.

agakhan78-117Ismaili girls in Tajikistan proudly display a decorated frame holding a photo of their beloved 49th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan (Mawlana Hazar Imam). The photo was taken during Didar (Invitation) – a celebration that takes place on 28th of May every year to commemorate the anniversary of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to the village in the 1990s. During the celebrations the villagers dress up, dance outdoors to the accordion and drums and sing ginane (religious songs), which tell of him being their Noor (light). The photograph was taken as these girls, dressed in bright atlas silk fabric with crowns on their heads, were going out to dance. Photo and caption: Matthieu Paley. Copyright.


Mawlana Hazar Imam was among the distinguished panelists invited to advise US President Clinton (centre) and Secretary of State Albright (left) on the role of culture in foreign policy at the White House on November 28, 2000.


Mawlana Hazar Imam examining ancient manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Centre in Timbuktu, during his visit to Mali in October 2003. Researchers believe there are as many as 300,000 manuscripts in northern Mali, dealing with religion, history, philosophy, astronomy, astrology, numerology, biology, geography, grammar, literature, medicine, mathematics, Islamic law and more. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte

agakhan78-108Mawlana Hazar Imam reviewing a manuscript during his visit to Mali. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte

agakhan78-046 Mawlana Hazar Imam standing alongside other Honorary Degree Recipients during Brown University’s Academic Procession on May 27, 1996. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.


Mawlana Hazar Imam with US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the late Senator Edward Kennedy at the opening ceremony of the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival held in Washington D.C. in July 2002.


Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. where he received the Vincent Sculley Award on January 26, 2005. In the photo above he is seen in a black-tie at the gala event when the award was presented, and in the photo below he is seen in a seminar on architecture where he actively participated in a panel discussion in front of a large audience. Photos: Vivian Ronay, Washington D.C. Copyright.




Mawlana Hazar Imam with the 2005 Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Photo: AKDN

Order of Canada

Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured before he was presented with the Order of Canada decoration by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson in Ottawa on June 6, 2005. Photo credit: Sgt Eric Jolin, Rideau Hall.

Order of CanadaA portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam taken after he was presented with the Order of Canada decoration
by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada. Photo credit: Sgt Eric Jolin, Rideau Hall.

agakhan78-035Mawlana Hazar Imam seen presenting his commencement speech at the American University in Cairo on June 15, 2006. The excerpt on Hazrat Mawlana Murtaza Ali, the first Shia Imam from whom the 49th Ismaili Imam is directly descended, is from this address. Photo: American University in Cairo.

agakhan78-008Mawlana Hazar Imam with architect Fumihiko Maki at an Aga Khan Museum Exhibition held at the Louvre in 2007. The renowned Japanese architect served twice on the Master Jury of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and designed both the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building in Ottawa, opened in 2008, and the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, which opened recently in September 2014. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte

agakhan78-041His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki bestowed Kenya’s highest medal of honour, the Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart, on Mawlana Hazar Imam at the State House on August 12, 2007. They are seen here at an official state function after the Hazar Imam received the medal. © Photo Credit:

agakhan78-072Mawlana Hazar Imam being presented with a framed set of postage stamps by Tanzanian President Kikwete on August 18th, 2007. The stamps were produced by Tanzania Posts Corporation to commemorate his Golden Jubilee visit to the country.


Simerg manufactured a beautiful limited edition collection set of two  frames comprising of stamps and first day covers that were produced around the world to celebrate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.



Downtown Salamiyya gets ready to welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam for his Golden Jubilee visit in 2008. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, Canada. Copyright.


Mawlana Hazar Imam signing his book “Where Hope Takes Root” for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.


Mawlana Hazar Imam presents his brother Prince Amyn and his son Prince Rahim to Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who welcomed them to Buckingham Palace during the Golden Jubilee of his Imamat. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte.

University honours Aga Khan Mawlana Hazar Imam with his daughter Princess Zahra before he was honoured on Monday June 30, 2008 by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth for his work against poverty and in promoting religious understanding. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images. Copyright.


Mawlana Hazar Imam with his son Prince Rahim and daughter Princess Zahra overlooking the entrance hall of the Ismaili Centre Dubai from the balcony above on the opening day on March 26, 2008. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte.


A collage of photos from the opening day of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building in Ottawa in December 2008.


On June 19, 2009, the House of Commons voted unanimously to bestow Honorary Canadian citizenship on Mawlana Hazar Imam. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen here presenting Hazar Imam with the Citizenship during the foundation ceremony in Toronto of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park. Photo: The website of the Prime Minister of Canada.


His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada, warmly receives Mawlana Hazar Imam at Rideau Hall on October 7, 2010, when he was in Ottawa on the occasion of the inaugural board meeting of the Global Centre of Pluralism. Photo: Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall.


Mawlana Hazar Imam and his younger brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the Ministry of Culture in Paris after they were decorated for their work in culture. Photo: Farida Bréchemier/MCC

Jain community reception

Mawlana Hazar Imam welcomes Prince Charles to the London Ismaili Centre to join a reception to help celebrate the Centre’s 25th anniversary in 2011. Photo: Press Association, Nottingham, UK.

Prince Karim Aga Khan Chateau De Chantilly Sponsor

Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured on June 22, 2012 in Chantilly, France. Photo by Philippe Petit/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

Prince Karim Aga Khan Chateau De Chantilly Sponsor

Mawlana Hazar Imam, president of the Foundation for the preservation and development of the Chantilly estate, pictured with Prince Amyn and Bernadette Chirac (R) in the castle on June 22, 2012 in Chantilly, France. Photo by Philippe Petit/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

Prince Karim Aga Khan Chateau De Chantilly Sponsor

Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured on June 22, 2012 in Chantilly, France. Photo by Philippe Petit/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

agakhan78-019sAs shown in a previous photo, Mawlana Hazar Imam received his first Honorary Degree on November 30, 1967 at the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, when he was 31. Then on January 13, 2012, he was presented with his 20th honorary degree by Ottawa University’s Chancellor Huguette Labelle. The President of the University, Alan Rock, observed: “His Highness has used his own faith background to speak directly to the goodness of all people.” Photo: University of Ottawa. Copyright.

agakhan78-020The citation conferring an Honorary Degree on Mawlana Hazar Imam at the University of Ottawa on January 13, 2012. Photo: University of Ottawa. Copyright.

Aga Khan honoured with the RAIC Gold Medal 2013

George Baird, the 2010 recipient of the coveted RAIC Gold Medal, Mawlana Hazar Imam with the 2013 medal presented to him, and Paul E. Frank, the President of RAIC pictured at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat where the Award ceremony took place.  Photo: AKDN/Farhez Rayani. Copyright.

agakhan78-002His Excellency Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of the Republic of Portugal presents Mawlana Hazar Imam with the 2013 North-South Prize. Photo: AKDN/José Manuel Boavida Caria.

agakhan78-090A view of landscaped gardens and cascading waterfall at the Ismaili Centre in Dushanbe. Photo: FNDA Architecture Inc. Copyright.

agakhan78-009The Humayun Tomb, the resting place of the second Mughal emperor and a precursor to the Taj Mahal, forms a backdrop in this picture taken during the inauguration ceremony on September 18, 2013 which was attended by the Chief Guest, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh Mawlana Hazar Imam, the Minister of Culture, Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Chairman Ratan Tata of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Prince Hussain Aga Khan. Photo: The website of the Prime Minister of India.


A young girl presents Mawlana Hazar Imam with flowers on the occasion of the inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad, India. Photo: The Ismaili/Gary Otte.


Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa and members of the Imam’s family pose for a photograph with members of the Ismaili Leaders’ International Forum after the nikah ceremony which took place on August 31, 2013. Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa are expecting their first child, as was announced recently. Photo: TheIsmaili/Gary Otte


Mawlana Hazar Imam meets with Ismaili students at Brown University on March 10, 2014, when he delivered the Ogden Lecture. Photo: The Ismaili/Aly Z. Ramji. Copyright.

agakhan78-091Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prime Minister Stephen Harper walk the Hall of Honour at the Parliament of Canada, where Hazar Imam delivered an address to both the Houses on Thursday, February 27, 2014. This impressive ceremonial hall is used for state occasions, parliamentary events, and formal processions such as the Speaker’s Parade. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.arc Carisse 2014 0227_5139

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Photo: Copyright Jean-Marc Carisse.

“The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet. But let me clarify something more about the history of that role, in both the Sunni and Shia interpretations of the Muslim faith. The Sunni position is that the Prophet nominated no successor, and that spiritual-moral authority belongs to those who are learned in matters of religious law. As a result, there are many Sunni imams in a given time and place. But others believed that the Prophet had designated his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. From that early division, a host of further distinctions grew up — but the question of rightful leadership remains central. In time, the Shia were also sub-divided over this question, so that today the Ismailis are the only Shia community who, throughout history, have been led by a living, hereditary Imam in direct descent from the Prophet.” — Address to the Canadian Parliament, February, 2014


An expression of gratitude and humility by Mawlana Hazar Imam as he accepts a standing ovation at the Canadian Parliament on Thursday February 27, 2014. With his are Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Princess Zahra and Laureen Ann Harper, the Prime Minister’s wife. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada


Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the opening of the Toronto Ismaili Centre on Friday, September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.


The newly opened Ismaili Centre in Toronto. The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte.



Ismailis around the world have a very deep sense of affection and love as well as engagement with their beloved Imam. However, we all realize that even in ordinary lives the affection that parents have for their children is unsurpassed and cannot be equally reciprocated. The same holds for the Ismaili Imam. The Prophet and his successors, the Imams, are regarded as the spiritual parents of their respective communities, and for this reason Mawlana Hazar Imam has himself said:

“When I leave this evening I would like that you should remember two things. One, that I will take with me in my heart the remembrance of each and everyone of you, the face of each and everyone of you. Secondly, that my love for my Jamat is a lot stronger than yours can ever be for me and I would like you to remember this…you must remember that Imam loves you more, much more than you can ever love him and you must be strong in this knowledge.”….Farman Mubarak, Pakistan visit 1964, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

These words convey hope and inspire confidence amongst his followers around the world on this happy occasion of his 78th birthday.



In all four ages,
I went about,
looking hard.
I found none
to match you, my lord.

My lord, my heart
is fond of you.*

Date posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014.


*Translation of verse 3 of Saiyad Imamshah’s ginan Sahebaji tun more mana bhave, from “A Scent of Sandalwood” by Dr. Aziz Esmail

Profile of Malik Merchant at Contributors.

Please also click: The Preamble Of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”

For a complete list with links to photo essays published on this blog please click: Table of Contents

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