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31. H.R.H. Shah Karim Al Hussayni
The Aga Khan IV, 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims
Shah Karim, also known simply as the Aga Khan (Imamate: 1957-present), is the leader of the Shi’a sect known as the Nizari Ismailis. The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam, with lineage descending back to Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. He is only the fourth Aga Khan, a hereditary title bestowed upon the Imam by the Shah of Persia in the mid-nineteenth century.
Hereditary Leader of Ismailis
The Aga Khan derives his position of authority from his lineage. At the age of 21 the Aga Khan bypassed his father and uncle to become the 49th Imam, a choice that his grandfather made because he felt the community needed a leader ‘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.’
The Aga Khan set up the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which is a collection of development and humanitarian agencies working in areas of poverty. The network is widely known for its architectural and cultural work, including projects that revitalize historic cities (e.g. the Old City of Aleppo and the Al Azhar Park in Cairo). The Aga Khan’s foundation maintains a strong and enduring presence in developing countries—building health care capacity, promoting economic development in rural areas and helping improve educational opportunities.
Citizen of: France
Birth: 13 December 1936 (Age: 75)
Influence: Leader of 5–15 milllion Nizari Ismailis
“In the Islamic tradition, they viewed the discovery of knowledge as a way to understand, so as to serve better God’s creation, to apply knowledge and reason to build society and shape human aspirations”
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655,000 Young plants were planted in Al- Azhar Park, turning a 500-year old garbage dump into a much needed park in Cairo.
700,000 The number of paid staff at at the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the largest private development networks in the world.
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