Aga Khan III
48th Imam of the Nizari Ismaili community (1877-1957)
Sir Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO PC (2 November 1877 – 11 July 1957) was the 48th Imam of the Nizari Ismaili Muslims. He was one of the founders and the first president of the All-India Muslim League, and served as President of the League of Nations from 1937 to 1938.
- Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God's signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order. Even in the Ayeh of Noor, divine is referred to as the natural phenomenon of light and even references are made to the fruit of the earth. During the great period of Islam, Muslims did not forget these principles of their religion.
- In a letter to Dr. Zahid Husain, President of Arabiyyah Jamiyyat, Karachi (4 April 1952)
- Even a little knowledge of Islam will show that its religion is not only tolerant of other Faiths, but most respectful, and indeed, fully accepts the divine inspiration of all theistic Faiths that came before Islam. It does not only teach tolerance to its followers, but goes a step further and enjoins on them all to create the godly quality of "Hilm" that is, tolerance, forbearance, patience, calmness, and forgiveness. It is due to the spirit of tolerance of Islam that even the smallest Christian and Jewish minorities survived and kept all their doctrines during the thousand years of Muslim rule. Nothing like what happened to Muslims in Spain after the Christian conquest has ever happened to a non-Muslim Faith in any Islamic dominion. How, can Europeans be so ignorant as to have forgotten that in the first century of Islam the Khalifs ordered that all that was best in Greek and Roman cultures should be assimilated; that not only the philosophy, medicine and science of Greece, but its poetry and drama, were carefully translated into Arabic and were generally sought not only by the learned but also by the pious! The Muslim attitude towards the absorption of ideas was based on the principle of Islam which enjoins to acquire knowledge wherever available, and there is a well-known and authentic saying of the Prophet that "his followers should seek learning even if they have to go to China."
- In response to an article in the The Times, London, which had labelled Islam as an "intolerant" religion, and held it responsible for some of the problems of the Middle East.
India in Transition (1918)Edit
- India In Transition : A Study In Political Evolution (1918)
- There is a right and legitimate Pan-Islamism to which every sincere and believing Mahomedan belongs — that is, the theory of the spiritual brotherhood and unity of the children of the Prophet. It is a deep, perennial element in that Perso-Arabian culture, that great family of civilisation to which we gave the name Islamic in the first chapter. It connotes charity and goodwill towards fellow-believers everywhere from China to Morocco, from the Volga to Singapore. It means an abiding interest in the literature of Islam, in her beautiful arts, in her lovely architecture, in her entrancing poetry. It also means a true reformation — a return to the early and pure simplicity of the faith, to its preaching by persuasion and argument, to the manifestation of a spiritual power in individual lives, to beneficent activity for mankind. This natural and worthy spiritual movement makes not only the Master and His teaching but also His children of all climes an object of affection to the Turk or the Afghan, to the Indian or the Egyptian. A famine or a desolating fire in the Moslem quarters of Kashgar or Sarajevo would immediately draw the sympathy and material assistance of the Mahomedan of Delhi or Cairo. The real spiritual and cultural unity of Islam must ever grow, for to the follower of the Prophet it is the foundation of the life of the soul.
- p. 156; a variant of this begins "This is a right and legitimate Pan-Islamism…", but is otherwise identical.
- It is for the Indian patriot to recognise that Persia, Afghanistan and possibly Arabia must sooner or later come within the orbit of some Continental Power — such as Germany, or what may grow out of the break up of Russia — or must throw in their lot with that of the Indian Empire, with which they have so much more genuine affinity. The world forces that move small States into closer contact with powerful neighbours, though so far most visible in Europe, will inevitably make themselves felt in Asia. Unless she is willing to accept the prospect of having powerful and possibly inimical neighbours to watch, and the heavy military burdens thereby entailed, India cannot afford to neglect to draw her Mahomedan neighbour States to herself by the ties of mutual interest and goodwill … In a word, the path of beneficent and growing union must be based on a federal India, with every member exercising her individual rights, her historic peculiarities and natural interests, yet protected by a common defensive system and customs union from external danger and economic exploitation by stronger forces. Such a federal India would promptly bring Ceylon to the bosom of her natural mother, and the further developments we have indicated would follow. We can build a great South Asiatic Federation by now laying the foundations wide and deep on justice, on liberty, and on recognition for every race, every religion, and every historical entity … A sincere policy of assisting both Persia and Afghanistan in the onward march which modem conditions demand, will raise two natural ramparts for India in the north-west that neither German nor Slav, Turk nor Mongol, can ever hope to destroy. They will be drawn of their own accord towards the Power which provides the object lesson of a healthy form of federalism in India, with real autonomy for each province, with the internal freedom of principalities assured, with a revived and liberalised kingdom of Hyderabad, including the Berars, under the Nizam. They would see in India freedom and order, autonomy and yet Imperial union, and would appreciate for themselves the advantages of a confederation assuring the continuance of internal self-government buttressed by goodwill, the immense and unlimited strength of that great Empire on which the sun never sets. The British position of Mesopotamia and Arabia also, whatever its nominal form may be, would be infinitely strengthened by the policy I have advocated.
Memoirs of Aga Khan: World Enough & Time (1954)Edit
- It is said that we live, move and have our being in God. We find this concept expressed often in the Koran, not in those words of course, but just as beautifully and more tersely... when we realize the meaning of this saying, we are already preparing ourselves for the gift of the power of direct [spiritual] experience.
- I firmly believe that the higher [spiritual] experience can to a certain extent be prepared for by absolute devotion in the material world to another human being. Thus from the most worldly point of view and with no comprehension of the higher life of the spirit, the lower, more terrestrial spirit makes us aware that all the treasures of this life, all that fame, wealth and health can bring are nothing beside the happiness which is created and sustained by the love of one human being for another... but as the joys of human love surpass all that riches and power may bring a man, so does that greater spiritual love and enlightenment, the fruit of that sublime experience of the direct vision of reality which is God's gift and grace, surpass all that the finest, truest human love can offer.
- Consider, for example, the opening declaration of every Islamic prayer: "Allah-o-Akbar". What does that mean? There can be no doubt that the second word of the declaration likens the character of Allah to a matrix which contains all and gives existence to the infinite, to space, to time, to the Universe, to all active and passive forces imaginable, to life and to the soul.
- Imam Hassan has explained the Islamic doctrine of God and the Universe by analogy with the sun and its reflection in the pool of a fountain; there is certainly a reflection or image of the sun, but with what poverty and with what little reality; how small and pale is the likeness between this impalpable image and the immense, blazing, white-hot glory of the celestial sphere itself. Allah is the sun; and the Universe, as we know it in all its magnitude, and time, with its power, is nothing more than the reflection of the Absolute in the mirror of the fountain.
- There is a fundamental difference between the Jewish idea of creation and that of Islam. The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, all is nothing, even the things which seem to us absolutely self-evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine will.
- All men, rich and poor, must aid one another materially and personally. The rules vary in detail, but they all maintain the principle of universal mutual aid in the Muslim fraternity. This fraternity is absolute, and it comprises men of all colours and all races... all are the sons of Adam in the flesh and all carry in them spark of the Divine Light. Everyone should strive his best to see that this spark be not extinguished but rather developed to that full "Companionship-on-High" which was the vision expressed in the last words of the Prophet [Muhammad] on his deathbed, the vision of that blessed state which he saw clearly awaiting him.
- Islamic doctrine goes further than the other great religions, for it proclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but nevertheless existing in an embryonic state, in all existence — in matter, in animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, every atom has its own spiritual relationship with the All-Powerful Soul of God. But men and women, being more highly developed, are immensely more advanced than the infinite number of other beings known to us.
- Life in the ultimate analysis has taught me one enduring lesson. The subject should always disappear in the object. In our ordinary affections one for another, in our daily work with hand or brain, we most of us discover soon enough that any lasting satisfaction, any contentment that we can achieve, is the result of forgetting self, or merging subject with object in a harmony that is of body, mind and spirit. And in the highest realms of consciousness all who believe in a Higher Being are liberated from all the clogging and hampering bonds of the subjective self in prayer, in rapt meditation upon and in the face of the glorious radiance of Eternity, in which all temporal and earthly consciousness is swallowed up and itself becomes the eternal.
Quotes about Aga Khan IIIEdit
- My grandfather was a most gifted person, and amongst his many qualities, one of them had always particularly impressed me. While the past was a book he had read and re-read may times, the future was just one more literary work of art into which he used to pour himself with deep thought and concentration. Innumerable people since his death have told me how he used to read in the future, and this certainly was one of his very great strengths. As a child I used to listen to him for many hours on end and I think, in fact I am convinced, that it was his inspiration which has created in me such a strong interest in the future, while at the same time, guiding me to learn from the teaching books of the past.
- His grandson, Karim al-Hussaini, who later succeeded him as Aga Khan IV and Imam of the Nizari Muslims, in " an address in Karachi, Pakistan (12 December 1964).
- My father insisted that I learnt the Koran and encouraged me to understand the basic traditions and beliefs of Islam but without imposing any particular views. He was an overwhelming personality but open-minded and liberal.
- His son, Sadruddin Aga Khan, as quoted in an interview to the The Telegraph (24 January 1998).
- The South Asiatic Federation was more for the good of the Muslim countries such as Arabia, Mesopotamia and Afghanistan than for the good of India. This shows how very naturally the thoughts of Indian Musalmansare occupied by considerations of Muslim countries other than those of India... What a terrible thing it would have been if this South Asiatic Federation had come into being! Hindus would have been reduced to the position of a distressed minority. The Indian Annual Register says: "Supporters of British Imperialism in the Muslim community of India have also been active trying by the organization of an Anglo-Muslim alliance to stabilize the role of Britain in Southern Asia, from Arabia to the Malaya Archipelago, wherein the Muslims will be junior partners in the firm at present, hoping to rise in time to the senior partnership. It was to some such feeling and anticipation that we must trace the scheme adumbrated by His Highness the Aga Khan in his book India in Transition published during the war years. The scheme had planned for the setting up of a South Western Asiatic Federation of which India might be a constituent unit. After the war when Mr. Winston Churchill was Secretary of State for the Colonies in the British Cabinet, he found in the archives of the Middle Eastern Department a scheme ready-made of a Middle Eastern Empire."
- B.R. Ambedkar, in Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
- In 1906 a delegation of Muslims led by the Aga Khan was steered into submitting a memorandum to the Viceroy, Lord Minto, demanding separate electorates for Mulsims..... Lady Minto wrote inn her Journal... "This has been.... an epoch in Indian History.... that will affect India for many a long year...." The Aga Khan... claimed..."Lord Minto's acceptance of our demands was... and the final inevitable consequence was the partition of India and the emergence of Pakistan."
- Shourie, Arun (1994). Missionaries in India: Continuities, changes, dilemmas. New Delhi : Rupa & Co, 1994 quoting Lady Minto, Aga Khan.
- Aga Khan III: A Study in Humanism, an article by Professor K. K. Aziz, who compiled a 2-volume book on the life, works and speeches of the Aga Khan III.
- Mowlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III