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Aga Khan

Origin: Though there are several paths (tariqah) within the Ismāʿīlīs, the term in today’s vernacular generally refers to the Nizari path, which recognizes the Aga Khan IV as the 49th hereditary Imam and is the largest group among the Ismāʿīlīs (Shia Islam).The Ismailis’ stronghold of Alamut – Iran which had warded off several Sunni offensives including one by Salah ad Din Yusuf ibn Ayyubi (Saladin), soon meet destruction in 1206 by Genghis Khan who led his Mongol hordes across Central Asia into the Middle-East where they won a series of tactical military victories using a scorched-earth policy. His son, Hulagu Khan, led the devastating attack on Alamut in 1256, before sacking the Abbasid Caliphate in Beghdad in 1258, Healso devastated the House of Wisdom in Beghdad & destroyed the Ismailias well as Islamic religious texts. The Imamate that was located in Alamut along with its few followers were forced to flee and take refuge elsewhere. When the Nizari Imams still lived in Iran the honorific title of Agha Khan was bestowed upon Aga Hasan Ali Shah, the 46th Imam of the Ismailis, by Fatih Ali Shah Qajar, The Shah of Persia. The title combines the Turkish military title Agha meaning noble or lord with the Altaic title Khan for a local ruler, which combinly means Commanding Chief. In Persia where under Qajar court protocol, Khan (& Amir) was common part of commanders of armed forces & a provincial tribal leaders which ranked fourth in precedence amongst the eight title classes for non – members of the dynasty. It is the longest & un – disputed muslim dynasty which claims its roots to Imam Ali & his wife Fatima as Zahra (daughter of Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h).

First Aga Khan & Start of Princely Era: When Hassan Ali Shah, the first Aga Khan came to Sindh from Afghanistan, he and his army were welcomed by Mir Nasir Khan of Sindh. The military assistance provided by Agha Khan I to General Nott in Kandhar Province & also to General England in his advance from Sindh to join Nottduring the latter stages of the Afghan War in 1841 & 1842 & rendering to Sir Charles Napier in his conquest of Sindh in 1843 – 44, the British Empire provided Agha Khan with rank & nobility. In 1887 he was started receiving pension for his services & alliance with British Raj. He was then awarded his ‘princely status’ by the British Government of India & became the only religious or community leader in British India granted a personal gun salute as all other salute dynasties were either rulers of Princely States or Political Pensioners holding ancestral titles in states abolished by Britishers.

List of Ismailis who held the Agha Khan title

  1. Aga Khan I = Hasan Ali Shah Mehalatee Aga Khan I (1800–1881), 46th Imam (1817–1881)
  2. Aga Khan II = Ali Shah Aga Khan II (about 1830–1885), 47th Imam (12 April 1881–1885)
  3. Aga Khan III = Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah (1877-1957), 48th Imam (17 August 1885–1957)
  4. Aga Khan IV = Prince Karim Al Husseini (b. 1936), 49th Imam of the Ismailis (11 July 1957–present)

The 49th Imam of Ismailis: Karim al Hussaini became the present Aga Khan IV upon assuming the Imamat of the Ismailis on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan (Aga Khan III). In his will, his grandfather stated the conditions that led him to select his grandson as successor to the Ismaili Imamat, thus bypassing his father, Prince Aly Khān, and his uncle, Prince Sadruddin Āgā Khān, who were in direct line of succession. In his will, the Agha KhanIII 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 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.

Family: Prince Karim Aga Khan IV is the 49th Ismaili Imam, claiming lineage to Ali, cousin of Muhammad, and his wife Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter. Who was born in Geneva – Switzerland on December13, 1936.  He was married two times. His first wife was HH Begum Salima Aga Khan (formerly Sarah (Sally) Croker-Poole), he had three children from her namely: Princess Zahra Aga Khan (b. September 18, 1970), Prince Rahim Aga Khan (b. October 12, 1971), Prince Hussain Aga Khan (b. April 10, 1974). He got married to his second wife HH Begum Inaara Aga Khan ((formerly Dr Gabriele Princess of Leiningen (née Gabriele Thyssen)) who gave birth to his fourth child named: Prince Aly Muhammad Aga Khan (b. March 7, 2000). The title His Highness was granted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1957, and His Royal Highness by the Shah of Iran in 1959. On July 11, 2007, Aga Khan IV completed 50 years of the imamat of the Ismaili community.The Agha Khan has sometimes been referred to by Ismailis as the Imam of the Atomic Age. He is the most decorated person in the world as his honors, awards, decorations stand apart from many historical leaders of the world. He had been honored & awarded by most of the countries of the world spanning almost throughout the globe. The latest Honors, Decorations, Awards of Aga Khan IV are:

1)       Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, France (2010)

2)       Honorary Doctorate of Divinity, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, (2009) (He is the first Muslim in the World to be conferred with this degree in the university’s 800 year history. “The Honorary Doctorate of Divinity is awarded to individuals who have made a global impact through their religious leadership,” said Tim Winter, Academic Secretary in the Faculty of Divinity. “I am delighted that His Highness the Aga Khan, whose charitable and spiritual leadership has a truly worldwide reach, and whose support for scholarship has impacted profoundly on Islamic Studies, should have been chosen for this well-deserved honour.” Hazar Imam was among ten eminent individuals who were presented with honorary doctorates by the Chancellor of the University, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Other recipients included Baroness Shirley Williams, Professor and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, who together established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

3)       One of The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the world, by Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Amman, Jordan (2010)

The Aga Khan, heir to the family fortune and a society figure, is founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the largest private development networks in the world. AKDN continues to work with a variety of African and Asian countries to improve living conditions and promote education. For instance, in Afghanistan the AKDN has mobilised over $750 million in development projects. In 1979, the Aga Khan also established the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote the study of Islamic art, architecture, urbanism, landscape design, and conservation – and the application of that knowledge to contemporary design projects.The program engages in research at both institutions and students can graduate with a Master of Science of Architectural Studies specializing in the Aga Khan program from MIT’s Department of Architecture. The Agha Khanhas 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, respectively, to interpret their religion to his community, and to do his utmost to improve the quality, and security of their quotidien.

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.

During the Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy, he said: “I have two reactions to the pope’s lecture: There is my concern about the degradation of relations and, at the same time, I see an opportunity. A chance to talk about a serious, important issue: the relationship between religion and logic”.

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.

He is among the few elite who are listed as the most busiest dignitartories of the world. He is regularly visited by so many state leaders from all corners of the world that even the President of US did not get to meet. He has a great passion for Horse breeding & racing & to live his passion & enjoy it he owns plush & some of the largest stud farms & breeding centres in Europe. His Aiglemont estate, at Gouvieux in the Picardie region of France, about 4 kilometres west of the Chantilly Racecourse, where he operates the largest horse racing and breeding operation in the country. 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. In 2006, the Aga Khan became the majority shareholder of Arqana, a French horse auction house. On October 27, 2009 it was announced that the Epsom Derby (Eng-G1), Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-G1), Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-G1), Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-G1), and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sea The Stars will stand stud at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud in Ireland.

Languages of Poor in The Diamond Kingdom – Scottish and Irish

The language heritage which both Irish & Scottish owns have lots of differences which makes them distinct from one another even though they are a beads of a single kingdom The UK where these spoken forms are treated as inferior.

There are a range of differences between the Scottish and the Irish. There are differences in the people themselves, their literature, their heritage, their food and their culture, to name just a few things. Both countries have left colorful marks on the pages of world history and are both qualified to be called ’great’ nations. Unfortunately Scotland and Ireland have never reached the status of other great nations such as England and Germany and tend to be lesser known.

You’re certainly already aware of their geography, and no doubt you know something of their histories, and their people. There is still one more thing you need to learn about the Scottish and Irish. You’ve heard the way they speak: their accent and intonation. Their “English” may have sounded indecipherable. That “English” however, just so you know, is their own language. It is one of the most remarkable languages in the whole world. It depicts both of the country’s deep culture and rich history. It is ancient yet it’s still living.

Gaelic is an adjective which means “pertaining to Gaels”. It includes its culture and language. If it is used as a noun, Gaelic would refer to a group of languages spoken by the Gaels. Gaels, by the way, are speakers of Goidelic Celtic languages. Although Goidelic speech originated in Ireland, it spread to Scotland long ago.

Scottish Gaelic, is still spoken actively in the northern most regions of Scotland. Some say that this language was first spoken in Argyll and was established way before the Roman Empire. But most people don’t know the exact period when the Scottish people first started to speak it. However, what is certain is that Scottish Gaelic spread across Scotland when the ancient province of Ulster was linked to Western Scotland during the 4th century. It was even made popular in the language of the Scottish church. By the 5th century, place name evidence showed that Gaelic was spoken in the Rhinns of Galloway. It was in the 15th century that Gaelic was known in English as Scottish. But after that, the highland and lowland boundary line started to emerge and Gaelic slowly lost its status as Scotland’s national language.

Irish Gaelic, on the other hand, is widely spoken on the western part of Ireland these days. In fact, you can see plenty of signage and street guides in Ireland that are written in two languages: English and Gaelic. It was taught to them by the fierce and conquering tribesmen known as Celts. However, sometime during the 8th century A.D., Ireland became the target of the Vikings. When the Vikings successfully conquered Ireland, a new set of language and learning was introduced. This marks the significant difference of the grammatical and phonetic aspects of both Scottish and Irish languages.

The root of Irish Gaelic is the same with the Scottish’. Irish or Erse, referring to the people, was once called Gaelic and was classified by the English conquerors as the lowest class of people. These people spoke Gaelic even when the Anglo-Saxons expected their language to slowly die. On and on the language evolved and it almost died, but a few Irish lads and lassies have kept it alive despite the odds. Now, about 60,000 people in Ireland can speak fluent Gaelic.

Queen Victoria – Empress of India

Born on May 24 1819 Alexandrina Victoria was the only child of the fourth son of King George III: Edward, duke of Kent. Her mother was Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of King Leopold of the Belgians.

About Queen Victoria

Victoria became heiress-apparent of the British crown on the death of her uncle George IV, and when her uncle William IV died childless in 1837, she became Queen of Great Britain. She was crowned the next year. Her Era was the longest of all in the Royal History of Great Britain. She tested the limits of her royal powers when the government of Lord Melbourne, the Whig who had been her mentor, fell the next year. She refused to follow precedent and dismiss her ladies of the bedchamber so that the Tory government could replace them. Her refusal brought back the Whigs until 1841. The Queen’s first language was German. German was the language of her mother and governess. She also spoke English, French and Hindustani.

Marriage: She’d met her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, when they were both seventeen. When they were twenty, he returned to England, and Victoria, in love with him, proposed marriage. They were married on February 10, 1840.Their first child, a daughter, was born in November 1840, and the Prince of Wales, Edward, in 1841. Three more sons and four more daughters followed. Victoria had traditional views on the role of the wife and mother, and though she was Queen and Albert was Prince Consort, he shared government responsibilities at least equally.

Indian Attraction: After the victory of British East India Company in the Revolt of 1857, She got the title of Empress of India which later on became the most popular title of Victorian Era. She was the first to use the title Empress of India. Queen Victoria had an affinity with  India and all things Indian. This was probably why she took an instant liking to an Indian manservant Munshi Hafiz Abdul Karim. Abdul Karim was from the Taj Mahal city Agra and had come to Victoria as a gift on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of her reign in 1887. He was to serve the queen as a waiter but soon this personable young man of 24. with suave manners became her special favorite. Victoria and Abdul Karim often talked in Urdu, foiling the attempts of those who would very much have liked to eavesdrop on what was going on between them. With the change in his status, came the change in Abdul Karim’s residence. The Queen moved him from the servants quarters, giving him cottages in the ground of royal palaces at Balmoral, Windsor and Osborne House. She assisted him in bringing his family to Britain where they lived at the royal expense. In 1878 Victoria had founded the Order of Indian Empire to honor people of outstanding merit who had served in India.

Widowhood: Death of Prince Albert in 1861 devastated her; her prolonged mourning lost her much popularity. Eventually coming out of seclusion, she maintained an active role in government until her death in 1901. Her reign was marked by waxing and waning popularity — and suspicions that she preferred the Germans a bit too much always diminished her popularity somewhat. By the time she had assumed the throne, the British monarchy was more figurehead and influence than it was a direct power in the government, and her long reign did little to change that.

Death: It was a winter time in Great Britain & every one was enjoying the first month of the New Year of 1901 when the entire British Empire was fallen into mourning & was paying homage to the Great Queen Victoria. On Tuesday 22nd January 1901 at 6:30pm at the age of 81 when the dusk was falling on the sky The angels of death were busy taking the soul of the Empress of India leading to an end of a Victorian Era & the rule of House of Hanover in the UK.The Queen was suffering from Rheumatism in her legs which had rendered her lame and her eyesight was bearing the shades of cataract. She was laid to rest in peace near the grave of her beloved husband Price Albert in Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park . Her Funeral was the only White Funeral where everyone was dressed in whites as requested by her.

Assassination Attempts: Five attempts were made to assassinate Queen Victoria during here lifetime which she survived with no serious injuries.

Legacy: Herself written Letters, Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands and More Leaves. Biographies of Victoria: Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria, are now considered out of date.The biographies written by Elizabeth Longford and Cecil Woodham-Smith, in 1964 and 1972 respectively, are still widely admired. Victoria Memorial in Calcutta – India, Victoria Memorial – London, State of Victoria in Australia & Victoria Waterfalls in Africa are named after her.

Children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert:

  • Victoria: Princess Royal, married Frederick III of Germany and mother to Kaiser Wilhelm
  • Albert Edward: Prince of Wales, later king as Edward VII
  • Alice: married the Duke of Hesse
  • Alfred: Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
  • Helena: married Prince Kristian of Schleswig-Holstein
  • Louise: married the Marquis of Lorne
  • Arthur: Duke of Connaught
  • Leopold: Duke of Albany
  • Beatrice: married Prince Henry of Battenber

Also read about Victoria’s Life with Prince Albert in our blog on Prince Albert

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