Aga Khan Celebrates 87th Birthday on December 13

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims around the globe will celebrate Khushiyali marking the 87th birthday of their hereditary Imam His Highness Shah Karim Al-Hussieni Aga Khan IV on December 13th. The Shia Imami Imams claim their hereditary lineage to Hazarat Imam Ali, the first Shia Imam. Shah Karim was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on Dec. 13, 1936. He grew up in Nairobi, studied in Switzerland and then graduated from Harvard.

His followers, who live all over the world, including Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, China, Pakistan, India, South East Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America will celebrate his 87th birthday virtually this year because of the pandemic.

The Aga Khan assumed the role of 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims during his junior year at Harvard, succeeding his grandfather, His Highness Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III, at the age of 20 on July 11, 1957. This is the first time in the family’s 1,300-year history that a generation for the Imamat had been skipped over.

His father, Ali Salman Khan who had served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN died in a car crash in 1960. His grandfather, Sultan Muhammed Shah had served as the first president of the League of Nations which preceded the United Nations. His Uncle Sadruddin Aga Khan, served as a UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

His great great grandfather Aga Hasan Ali Shah was the khan of Kerman, a khannate in Iran. This is where the title Aga Khan comes from. He used to travel from Iran to India to have audiences with his followers and later settled in Mumbia.

Shah Karim has followed the tradition of his predecessors in leading and serving Muslims around the world through his Imamate and institutions he has established through the Aga Khan Development Network.