Aga Khan IV
Imams of Ismaili Shi'a Islam
|Rank||49th Nizari Imām|
|Life Duration||Before Imamate: 21 years
(1957 - present)
|Titles||His Highness Aga Khan IV|
|Spouse(s)||Princess Salimah Āgā Khān (1969 – 1995)
Begum Inaara Āgā Khān (1998 – divorce pending since 2004 )
|Father||Prince Aly Khan|
|Mother||Princess Tajuddawlah Aly Khan|
|Children||Princess Zahra Āgā Khān
Prince Rahim Āgā Khān
Prince Hussain Āgā Khān
Prince Aly Muhammad Aga Khan
Ali · Ḥassan · Ḥusain
Shah Karīm al-Hussaynī, The Āgā Khān IV, KBE, CC, GCC, GCIH (Arabic: سمو الأمیر شاہ کریم الحسیني آغا خان الرابع) (born December 13, 1936) is the 49th and current Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He has held this position under the title of Āgā Khān since July 11, 1957, at the age of 20 he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. The Āgā Khān is responsible for the interpretation of the faith for his followers and as part of the office of the Imamate, endeavors to improve the quality of their lives and the communities where they live.
The Āgā Khān is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter, and is referred to by members of his community as Mawlana Hāzar Imām (حاضر إمام, "Present Imām"). Since his promotion to the Imamate, the Āgā Khān has been involved in complex political and economic changes which have affected his followers, including independence of African countries from colonial rule, expulsion of Asians from Uganda, the independence of Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan from the former Soviet Union, continuous turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Āgā Khān is particularly interested in the elimination of global poverty; the advancement of female status; the promotion of Islamic culture, art, and architecture; and promoting pluralistic values in society. He is the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the largest private development networks in the world, which toils towards social, economic, and cultural development in Asia and Africa.
Born Prince Karim Aga Khan, the Aga Khan IV is the eldest son of Prince Aly Khān, (1911–1960) and his first wife, Princess Tajuddawlah Aly Khan, formerly the Hon. Joan Barbara Yarde-Buller (1908–1997), the eldest daughter of the 3rd Baron Churston. Born in Geneva, Switzerland on December 13, 1936, Prince Karim was declared healthy despite being born prematurely. The Āgā Khān's brother, Prince Amyn, was born less than a year later. Their parents divorced in 1949 and Prince Aly Khān later married Rita Hayworth, with whom he had a daughter, Princess Yasmin Āgā Khān, half-sister of the Āgā Khān. He also has a step-brother, Patrick Guinness, from his mother's first marriage.
The Āgā Khān spent his childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, where his early education was done by private tutoring. His grandfather, Āgā Khān III, engaged Mustafa Kamil, a scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, for both Prince Karim and Prince Amyn. The Āgā Khān later attended the Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland for nine years. He graduated from Harvard University in 1959 with a BA honors degree in Islamic history. Significantly, Aga Khan skied for Turkey and Iran at the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.
The Āgā Khān married his first wife, Sarah "Sally" Frances Croker-Poole, who assumed the name HH Begum Salima Āgā Khān, on 22 October 1969 (civil) and 28 October 1969 (religious), at his home in Paris, France. The couple were married for 25 years, during which they had three children: Princess Zahra Āgā Khān (b. September 18, 1970), Prince Rahim Āgā Khān (b. October 12, 1971), and Prince Hussain Āgā Khān (b. April 10, 1974). Their marriage ended by divorce in 1995.
The Āgā Khān married his second wife, née Gabriele Thyssen, who assumed after marriage the name Begum Inaara Aga Khan, "Inaara" (derived from Arabic nur, meaning "light") at his vast walled compound and chateau near Chantilly, France (unrelated to the commune of Aiglemont in the Ardennes) on 30 May 1998. By her, the Āgā Khān has a son, Prince Aly Muhammad Āgā Khān (b. 7 March 2000), and a stepdaughter, HSH Princess Theresa of Leiningen, who is in115th in line to the throne of the United Kingdom. On 8 October 2004, an announcement was made that the Āgā Khān and the Begum Āgā Khān were to seek a divorce.
The Āgā Khān's personal wealth has been estimated as almost $1 billion. His annual income is estimated to be $300m. Business interests include hotels and airlines, and he has also invested in a tourist complex in Sardinia. His main source of income is through investing in stocks, companies and material goods.
Following the death of his grandfather, Sultan Muhammed Shah Āgā Khān, Prince Karim, at the age of 20, became the 49th Imām of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, bypassing his father, Prince Aly Khān, and his uncle, Prince Sadruddin Āgā Khān, who were in direct line of succession.
In his will, the Āgā Khān III explained the rationale for choosing his eldest grandson as his successor:
"In view of the fundamentally altered conditions in the world has provoqued many changes , including the discoveries of atomic science, I am convinced that it is in the best interests of the Muslim 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."
Upon taking the position of Imam, the Āgā Khān stated that he intended to continue the work his grandfather had pursued in building modern institutions to improve the quality of life of the Ismaili community. Takht nashini (installation) ceremonies occurred at several locations over 1957 and 1958. During this time, the Āgā Khān emphasized to his followers the importance of fostering positive relations among different ethnics; this message was highly appropriate considering the racially tense atmosphere in East Africa. During the installation ceremonies in the Indian subcontinent, he stressed his commitment to improving the quality of life of Ismailis and encouraged cooperation with individuals of other religions and ethics. The main themes that the Āgā Khān emphasized during these first few months of his Imamat were development, education, interracial harmony, and confidence in religion.
The Āgā Khān has 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"
July 11, 2007 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Aga Khan's reign of Imamat. On this occasion, leaders representing the Ismaili Community from all over the world gathered at the Aga Khan's residence to pay homage. As part of the Jubilee Year, Aga Khan made sejourns to various countries.
The countries visited include:
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, India, Bangladesh, West Africa, United Kingdom, Portugal, Syria, Tajikistan, Canada, Singapore and France.
Aga Khan also organised a sports meet in Kenya, and teams from all over the world came to play this event. 
In 1977, the Aga Khan established the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, an award recognizing excellence in architecture that encompasses contemporary design and social, historical, and environmental considerations. It is the largest architectural award in the world and is granted triennially. The award grew out of the Aga Khan’s desire to revitalize creativity in Islamic societies and acknowledge creative solutions for buildings facilities and public spaces. The prise winner is selected by an independent master jury convened for each cycle.
In 1979, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) respectively, established the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA), which is supported by an endowment from Aga Khan. These programs provide degree courses, public lectures, and conferences for the study of Islamic architecture and urbanism. Understanding contemporary conditions and developmental issues are key components of the academic program. 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 Aga Khan is founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), one of the largest private development networks in the world, which coordinates the activities of over 200 agencies and institutions, employing a total of 70,000 paid staff. Its partners include numerous governments and several international organizations. AKDN agencies operate in social and economic development as well as in the field of culture, with special focus on countries of the Third World. The network operates in 35 of the poorest countries in the world and is statutorily secular.
The network includes the Aga Khan University (AKU), the University of Central Asia (UCA), the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES), the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS), and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM). The Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA)is the largest architectural award in the world.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an affiliate of the AKDN, is responsible for emergency response in the face of disaster. Recent examples include the massive earthquake in Pakistan (AKDN earthquake response) and the South Asian Tsunami.
Significant recent or current projects led by the Āgā Khān include the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and the Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP) in Ottawa, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Al-Azhar Park () in Cairo, the Bagh-e Babur restoration in Kabul, and a network of full IB residential schools known as the Aga Khan Academies (AKA). See  In 2002, Aga Khan pledged $75 million for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The pledge was the largest by any single donor and more than most countries.
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 the first Muslim in the World to be conferred with this degree.
At his Aiglemont estate, at Gouvieux in the Picardie region of France, about 4 kilometres west of the Chantilly Racecourse, he operates the largest horse racing and breeding operation in the country. In 1977, he paid £1.3 million for the bloodstock owned by Anna Dupré and in 1978, £4.7 million for the bloodstock of late Marcel Boussac.
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. Haras d'Ouilly had been owned by such famous horsemen as the Duc Decazes, François Dupré and Jean-Luc Lagardère.
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 Champions Stakes (Ire-G1), and $5.8 million Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sea The Stars will stand stud at the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in Ireland.
By HH Begum Salima Āgā Khān (formerly Sarah (Sally) Croker-Poole);
By HH Begum Inaara Aga Khan HSH (formerly Dr Gabriele Princess of Leiningen (née Gabriele Thyssen));
Aga Khan IV
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu QuraishBorn: 1936 C.E Died: Present C.E.
|Shī‘a Islam titles|
|49th Imam of Nizari Ismailism
1957 - Present
The Āgā Khān IV, or His Highness Prince Karīm al-Ḥussaynī Āgā Khān IV, KBE, CC, GCC, (born December 13, 1936) is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, comprised of ethnically and culturally diverse peoples living in over 25 countries around the world. A Harvard graduate in Islamic history, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather as Imam of the Ismailis in 1957. He is the founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network.