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Agha Khan

british, shah, persia, king and bombay

AGHA KHAN, title of the spiritual head of the Indian Ismailites or IChodjas, a Mohammedan sect. The office is vested in a very ancient and sacred family said to be descended from Mohammed's daughter, Fati mah; but more directly from Hasan Sabbah, founder of the Ismailiah dynasty in Persia (d. 1124). This weird but mighty e persona became chief of the dreaded Assassins (q.v.), well known by the Crusaders and completelllilly exterminated by the Tartar King Halaku of Persia in 1256. The present holder of the title is the third in succession. A remarkable feature of the three Agha Khans is their absolute and whole-hearted devotion to Great Britain. Agha Khan I, Hasan Ali Shah, b. Persia 1800; d. Bombay, 12 April 1881, was governor-general of the province of Kerman under the Shah Fateh Ali. He fled from Persia in 1840 after an attempt to gain the throne, at which his family aimed, and settled in Bombay. Here he held a royal court for 30 years. He assisted the British with his private cavalry in the Afghan War, 1842, and later rendered numerous valuable services to the British government, which granted him a pension. A recognized "king without a coun try," he exercised absolute control over his followers, collected a large annual tribute, and became a keen sportsman, with a special fond ness for horse racing. Agha Khan II, Agha Ali Shah, son of the preceding, reigned only four years; he continued in his father's policy, received a knighthood from Queen Victoria, and was made a member of the Bombay legis lative council. He died in 1885 and was suc ceeded by his son: Agha Sultan, Sir Muham mad Shah, K.C.I.E., G.C.S.I., LL.D., Agha Khan III, b. 1875. He holds spiritual sway over some 60,000,000 followers in India, central Asia, east Africa, Morocco and China. At the outbreak of the European

War he was visiting his adherents in Zanzibar; he not only exhorted all his people to place their personal services and resources unreservedly at the disposal of the British but himself volunteered to accompany the Indian Expeditionary Force as a private in any infantry regiment, since he had not had any military training to justify a commission. When Turkey entered the war he issued a powerful manifesto to Moslems throughout the empire strongly condemning her action. At the risk of his life, he visited Egypt in the critical period immediately fol lowing Turkey's adhesion to the Central Powers, and assisted in bringing about the readjustment which followed the deposition of Abbas Hilmi II (q.v.). During 1911-13 he was instrumental in soothing the grave dis quietude of Indian Moslem sentiment in respect of the Turco-Italian and the two Balkan wars, urging upon his coreligionists the imperative duty of resignation to the inevitable waning of the Turkish power in Europe and of acquies cence in British policy. An enthusiastic sup porter of the Allies against Germany, he has upheld their cause in public speeches and writings. In April 1916 King George, Em peror of India, granted to His Highness the Agha Khan a salute of 11 guns and the rank and status of a first class chief of the Bom bay Presidency for life. This very exceptional honor is the more noteworthy as his authority is entirely spiritual and there is no state in India where he holds sway as ruler. In 1902 he was the guest of the British nation at the coronation of the King. In 1901 the Kaiser conferred on him the First Class Prussian Order of the Royal Crown.