Aga Khan: The man, colour of money & the India connection

Forbes magazine lists Aga Khan among the world's ten richest royals with a net worth of $800 million. However, some sources claim that his wealth at around $3 billion.

Aga Khan: The roots and Indian Connection

(In picture: Aga Khan residence in Calcutta, India)
It is believed that the Aga Khan is a direct lineal descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, considered the first Imam in Shia Islam, and Ali's wife Fatima az-Zahra, Muhammad?s daughter from his first marriage. The name 'Aga Khan' is used by the Imam of the Nizari Ismailis. According to some historical records, it is an honorific title presented to Hasan Ali Shah (1800?1881), the 46th Imam of Nizari Ismailis, by Persian king Fath-Ali Shah Qajar.

However, this fact is contradicted by what the Aga Khan III noted in a famous legal proceeding in India. He, on the other hand, clarified that Aga Khan is not a title but instead a sort of alias or nickname given to the Aga Khan I when he was a young man.


Aga Khan IV in controversies

Aga Khan's charitable organisation, Aga Khan Development Network is one of the largest private charities in the world--employing 80,000 people across 30 countries.

The division of the network in Canada is called the Aga Khan Foundation.

The Canadian government partnered up with this organisation in 2004, sponsoring 16 global developmental initiatives worth more than $300 million.

In the beginning of 2017, a controversy erupted when the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made a visit to Aga Khan's private Caribbean island.

The opponents labelled the vacation a "conflict of interest".

Although there was potentially nothing wrong with the visit, the ride in Aga Khan's private helicopter apparently broke the law.

The Conflict of Interest Act states that the prime minister cannot take a private aircraft without the permission from the ethics commissioner.

The law also forbids Trudeau from accepting gifts from lobbyists--Aga Khan reportedly falls in that category.

Other influential names in Canada's political sphere--such as MP Seamus O?Regan and his husband, as well as Liberal party president Anna Gainey and her husband have also been guests of the Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan?s links with the Trudeaus traces back to 1970s when Ugandan dictator Idi Amin expelled Ismailis from his country. The Aga Khan requested the then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to give his people a safe haven, and Canada took in 7,000 Ismailis.

In May 2010, the Aga Khan received honorary Canadian citizenship from the then prime minister Stepher Harper. The media felt the Islamic Art museum being built by the foundation, which was part of the $300 million grandiose project wasn't needed.

In yet another controversy, the Barefoot College Tilonia decided to return the Aga Khan Award for architecture it received in October 2001.

The $50,000 cash prize was awarded to the architects of the school for their "exceptional contribution in building rainwater harvesting structures, homes for the homeless and the barefoot college campus" until one person who felt left out from the title asked for his share of the honour.

Sanjit Roy, the Director of the Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC), also known by his alias "Bunker Roy", and a small, close-knit fraternity of men and women at Tilonia, a model village in Rajasthan's Ajmer district, decided to return the award on July 3 as the Aga Khan Foundation changed the wordings of the original citation to include the name of Neehar Raina, a Delhi-based architect.


Aga Khan: The dynasty

(In picture: Aga Khan I)

During the end of First Anglo-Afghan War (1841-1842), Hasan Ali Shah gave a helping hand to General Nott in Kandahar Province and to General England in his advance from Sindh to join Nott. He was bestowed upon the status of "Prince" by the British government in India and became the sole religious leader in British India. He was granted a personal gun salute. When Hasan Ali Shah, Aga Khan I, came to Sindh, then in India and now in Pakistan, from Afghanistan, he was welcomed by Mir Nasir Khan of Baluchistan, Pakistan. In 1866, the Aga Khan won a court battle in the High Court of Bombay, being recognised by the British government as the head of the Khoja community.

In 1887, the Secretary of State for India acting through the Viceroy of India formally recognized the title, "Aga Khan''


Wealth of the Aga Khan

Besides being a religious leader, Aga Khan IV is a billionaire business tycoon who breeds 800 thoroughbred horses in stud farms of Ireland and France, has controlling stakes in Pakistan's Habib Bank, possess plantations in Kenya, a chain of luxury hotels, private jets, walled estate in Chantilly, France - the personal wealth is estimated to be more than $15 billion.

The Aga Khan's father also owned a great amount of real estate. He owned an Apartment overlooking the East River in New York, a manor house outside Dublin, Ireland, a mansion in Bois de Boulogne in Paris, Chateau d'horizon on the French Riviera, a villa on the Normandy coast and another villa on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He often hosted grand parties in these houses.

He also owns private islands, cell phone companies, an airline, tourism ventures, small and mid-size businesses across the sub-Saharan region.

Some of the world's 15 million pay 8-12% of their earnings to Aga Khan.


Father of the Aga Khan IV: Prince Aly Khan

Aga Khan?s father, Prince Aly Khan, had a reputation as a jet-setter. Horses were one of his dearest passions--he was the owner of the finest race horses and was a glorious amateur jockey. He raced up till his 40s in races like Prix des Lions, Bar Steeplechase, French Amateur Derby, Le Trambley, and Chantilly as well as Longchamp.

It is known that his father was upset with the huge risks he took in point-to-point races.
He had the reputation of a playboy throughout his life. There have always been speculations of him having mistresses. He also had an extravagantly lavish lifestyle--spending about $3million dollars a year at the time--the amount would translate to more than $30 million a year in today's time.

He divorced the current Aga Khan?s mother to marry Hollywood star Rita Hayworth in 1949.

In 1957, Aly Khan's bypassed him by naming his 20-year-old grandson, Karim, the Aga Khan IV.

It was the first time that a generation had been passed over in the sect?s 1,300-year history. After the shock, Aly became acquainted with Pakistan?s president Iskander Mirza in November 1957, who then offered him a position as the country?s permanent spokesman in the United Nations.

He died in an unfortunate car crash at the age of only 48.


Aga Khan: Prince Karim

(In picture: Aga Khan IV receiving a gift of Trinitite while visiting the Los Alamos National Laborator)
His Highness Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. He succeeded his grandfather, Aga Khan III, at the age of 20 in 1957. For the first time in the history of the family, the succession was passed to the third generation instead of second. It is said that Karim's father indulged in sports, speed, and women which led to the decision of not making him the Aga Khan IV.

His thoughts when he was crowned Aga Khan IV:
Overnight my whole life changed completely. I woke up with serious responsibilities toward millions of other human beings.
? Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV,
(Sports Illustrated Interview, August 10, 1964, NanoWisdoms

Shah Karim is one of the world?s richest men with an estimated net worth of $800 million. He is also a revered religious figure worldwide.

Similar to his grandfather, he is committed to promote the image of Muslims, bridging the gap and misconceptions about the religion, and giving a greater understanding of the Islam, emphasising in the West.

The Ismaili sect of Shia Islam has roughly 15 million members across the world.

The Harvard Graduate has a degree in Islamic History and is the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, an organization dedicated to improve people?s lives in the developing world. Relying largely on donations that flow in from followers, Aga Khan has been able to build schools and hospitals. He has also provided regular funding for administration, new initiatives and other activities.


Aga Khan: Aga Khan Palace in India

The Aga Khan Palace in Pune was built by Sultam Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III in 1892.

The palace was built in 1892 after a famine to generate employment for the people of the region. So, the roots of this palace are in charity & noble thoughts. It took 5 years and 1000 workers to build it at a cost of Rs 12,00,000/-. Palace is spread across an estate of 19 acres with a built area of 7 acres.


Aga Khan: Mahatma Gandhi in Aga Khan Palace

The Aga Khan Palace in Pune has great historical significance as Mahatma Gandhi along with his wife Kasturba Gandhi, his secretary Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu were imprisoned in it for a period of two years, towards the end of British rule in India.

In 1969, the palace was donated to India. Today, it possesses Gandhi?s memorial, Kasturba and Desai?s samadhis and archives of photos and portraits of Gandhi during the freedom struggle.


Aga Khan: Wealth

Forbes magazine lists Aga Khan among the world's ten richest royals with a net worth of $800 million. However, some sources claim that his wealth at around $3 billion.

Most of his wealth comes voluntary cash donations by Ismaili community members. As a part of the religion, followers donate at least 10 per cent of their gross annual income to the spiritual leader.

However, Aga Khan has reportedly been involved in different business ventures, including exclusive luxury hotel chains.

A multi-million-dollar horse-racing and breeding operation is believed to be one of the main sources of the Aga Khan's income beyond donations by his followers. He owns horse-breeding farms in France and Ireland.

Another spectacular instance of the family's wealth is the Hackwood Park--one of Britain's priciest mansions that the residence of Aga Khan's mother.

The mansion is 50 times the size of an average house that boasts of 24 bedrooms and 24 bathrooms.

The exclusive home, built in 1680, spreads over 260 acres of grounds and includes a spectacular botanical garden. It also has a stable with a coach house and four cottages. There is a deer park and an ancient woodland in the house.