Role of Aga Khan III in Educational Development of the Muslims of Indian Sub-continent — By Ashraf Khan on Pamir Times Net

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in full regalia

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in full regalia. Photo from “Fidai” Magazine published in 1936 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. Credit: Sadruddin Pirani Collection, Ottawa.


In 1893 Aga Khan III (at the age of 16) met with Nawab Mohsin ul Mulk in Mumbai, the prominent member of the Aligarh Movement, and discussed the educational condition of the Muslims and Nawab Sahib presented the objectives of the Aligarh movement. On 1896 Sir Aga Khan III made his first visit to Aligarh and met with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. The meeting turned into a remarkable mutual understanding and trust that 80 years old (Sir Syed) anticipates the extra ordinary leadership qualities of a 20 year old young man (Sir Aga Khan III) and entrusted the heavy responsibility of the nation. Sir Syed highlighted the need of modern educational system and institutions for the Muslims that they are alien to modern education and knowledge. As trusted, Aga Khan III undertook the important responsibility to upgrade the college into a university. As pledged, he left no stone unturned to make efforts to collect the required amount for up gradation of the college. Before visiting to the length and breadth of India for the fund raising campaign, he donated an amount of one hundred thousand (one lakh) rupees for Aligarh movement. In his speeches he emphasized on Muslims to realize the need and to contribute for this noble national objective. There was warm reception in each city he visited and the response from the people was enormously encouraging. As Mawlana Shibli Numani, the prominent scholar of the Subcontinent stated that “the six billion Muslims were unable to carry-out a task which (Sir Aga Khan) accomplished single handedly” (Zawahir Moyeer, Tarikh-e-Aima-e-Ismailia, vol. 4, ITREB, Karachi, 1983, p.70).


Eventiually with the ceaseless efforts of the Sir Aga Khan, on October 1920, the Aligarh University was given its official charter and on December 17, 1920 the inauguration ceremony of the university took place.

The trustees of the Aligarh movement established a scholarship under the name of “Aga Khan Scholarship Fund” for national and international higher studies. The beneficiaries of this scholarship were Dr. Zia-ud-din Ahmed, Dr. Vali Muhammad and Dr. Karim Haider who were later appointed as vice chancellor of Aligarh University, University of Likhnow, and Uthmania University.

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Aga Khan III on Wikipedia


Aga Khan III  in 1936

Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO PC (2 November 1877 – 11 July 1957) was the 48th Imam of the Nizari Ismailicommunity. He was one of the founders and the first president of the All-India Muslim League. His goal was the advancement of Muslim agendas and protection of Muslim rights in India. The League until the late 1930s was not a mass organisation but represented the landed and commercial Muslim interests of the United Provinces (today’s Uttar Pradesh).[1] He shared Syed Ahmad Khan‘s belief that Muslims should first build up their social capital through advanced education before engaging in politics. Aga Khan called on the British Raj to consider Muslims to be a separate nation within India. Even after he resigned as president of the AIML in 1912, he still exerted major influence on its policies and agendas. He was nominated to represent India to the League of Nations in 1932 and served as President of the League of Nations from 1937–38.

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