Aga Khan III

48th Imam of the Nizari Ismaili community (1877-1957)

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 Ismaili sect of Islam.

Aga Khan III in 1936

He became Imam at a very young age. He was seven years old when his father, Aga Khan II, died in 1885. 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 1937-38.

He was born in Karachi, in what was British India. He was given a religious education, and also a European education. He attended Eton and Cambridge University, and was a frequent visitor to Britain.

His followers celebrated his anniversaries as Imam in 1937, 1946 and 1954 by weighing him in gold, diamonds and platinum. The proceeds were spent on welfare and development in Asia and Africa. Girls schools were set up in the remote northern areas of what is now Pakistan. He was knighted by Queen Victoria, and later made a member of the Privy Council.

His choice of successor


At the end of his life, Sir Sultan Mohammed did a remarkable thing. In his will, he disinherited his son, Aly Khan, in favour of his grandson, Karim. So the next Khan, Aga Khan IV, was a younger man better suited to the modern world.



The Aga Khan married four times:

  • 2 November 1896 in Poona, India: to Shazadi Begum
  • 1908 to Cleope Teresa Magliano (1888–1926). They had two sons: Prince Giuseppe Mahdi Khan (d. February 1911) and Prince Aly Khan (1911–1960). She died in 1926, following an operation on 1 December 1926.
  • 1929 (civil), in Aix-les-Bains, France, and (religious), in Bombay, India. The bride was the co-owner of a dressmaking shop in Paris. She became known as Princess Andrée Aga Khan, but did not convert to Islam. By this marriage, he had one son, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, in 1933-2003.
  • 1944, in Geneva, Switzerland, Yvonne Blanche Labrousse. She had been his social secretary.



The Aga Khan's mausoleum is near the Nile at Aswan, Egypt.