Concerning the Aga Khan: Most Picturesquely Interesting Personality of the Turf, Daily Racing Form, 1924-01-25


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, . i i i , ! j J i j , j i ! ! . I . : j 1 . i , , I . , , I ! ! 4 i CONCERNING THE AGA KHAN Most Picturesquely Interesting Personality of the Turf. So Salvalor Describes Indian Prince That May Race Some of His Horses on American Race Tracks. BY SALVATOR. In more than one respect, the Aga Khan is the most picturesquely interesting personality ever identified with the thoroughbred turf. This is perhaps a "large order," considering the many famous men and women that figure in the annals of the sport, the world around. Yet its correctness may stoutly be asserted, and the proof produced. I notice in many press dispatches and magazine articles that he is denominated "Prince Aga Khan." This is incorrect and tautological to boot. His title of Khan in itself is the equivalent , of Prince; though it -might be maintained that this title has been abused in its modern usage and is now sported or laid hold of by many "Khans" not re illy princes, nor, indeed, legitimately entitled to any handle to their names of any kind. But in the case of the Aga Khan it does really signify Prince. So, when he is referred to as "Prince Aga Khan." it is equivalent to saying, "Prince Aga Prince;" a sad manhandling of language. As -for the Aga part of the name, it more properly should be spelt Agha and its meaning is Great Lord; or more specifically. Great Commander. So the equivalent cf Aga Khan in English really is Great Commander-Prince. However, the Aga Khan is much more than merely an Aga or a Khan. lie is also both a Sultan and a Shah. Sultan, as everybody knows, is the Turkish equivalent of King or Emperor; while Shah is the Persian equiv- alent of the same dignities. The Aga Khans official appellation is: Aga Sultan Mahomed Shah, according to the handbooks which give the data anent the oriental potentates affiliated with the British Empire. IS A SPIRITUAL SOVEREIGN. The Aga Khan, to use his popular sobriquet, is now in his forty-ninth year, having been born in 1S75. He is not a temporal but a spiritual sovereign, being the supreme head of one of the two great divisions of the Mahomedan world, i.e., that of the Shiah sect. After the death of Mahomed, the founder of the Islamic religion, his followers split into two main bodies, owing to quarrels among his heirs and next of kin. One of these bodies is known as the Sunnites and the others as the Shiahs. The Sunnites com-I prise the Turks, Arabs and closely affiliated nations ; while the immense mass of the Mahomedan inhabitants of India, Tersia and several smaller Asiatic countries are Shiahs. The heads of the Sunnites and the principal potentates of the Islamic world have always been the Sultans of Turkey and before them the Caliphs, first of Medina, then of Damas-I cus and then of Bagdad. The "caliphate" as the Islamic empire in Asia was known, was overthrown and passed into history when the Turks took command and transferred the seat of empire to Constantinople about 125S, A. D. The death of. Mahomed had occurred as far back as 661 and the schism among his fol-. lowers began immediately. This was duo to two rival factions. One of these claimed that lthe head of the Faithful," i. e., the Caliph or Sultan, must be a descendant of Mahomed himself. The other claimed that this was not necessary, but that he must come from tho same tribe which the Founder of the Faith sprang from, i. e., the Koreish. The latter factions proved the stronger and under the appellation, of Sunnites controlled the situation, keeping the dissenters well in hand until the latter carried an evangelical cru- sade into India via Tersia about 1430. There they made such headway as to reverse mat-I ters, becoming dominant and remaining so to this day. These are the Shiahs. THE MAHOMEDAN POPULATION. According to current religious statistics, there are at present about 223,000,000 Ma-homedans in the world. Of these more than 100,000,000 are inhabitants of British Indi.x and, counting other Asiatic countries, .it is stated that, taking them all together, ths Aga Khans spiritual subjects amount to over 50 percent of what is collectively termed "Islam" or the Mahomedan religious world. jHis title as ruler of this vast mass of hu-Jmanity is Imam or Imauni, meaning lit-! erally, a guide, its derivation coming from an Arabic verb which signifies "to walk before." He is today much more powerful than the ex-Sultan of Turkey, who, though he has lost his throne since tho erection of the Turkish republic, remains the head Caliph of the Sunnite Mahomedans, The Sultans spiritual subjects live in Turkey, .Asia Minor, Arabia and Egypt principally jfind are scarcely so prosperous or wealthy today as the Moslems of India, where the Shiahs have been for centuries famous as a commercial as well as religious sect, being above all things traders, craftsmen, etc. The Shiahs have never, since they "got upon their feet," in India in any way acknowl-- edged the supremacy of the Caliphs or Sul-1 tans, but solely that of their own Imam. And in course of time and owing to the weakness Continued on twelfth pace. CONCERNING THE AGA KHAN Continued from first page. politically of Turkey many of the Sunnite Moslems of India have also become subject to the Imams rule. The Aga Khan, as aforesaid, was born in India in 1875, but like many other of its native princes was educated largely in England, and is an honorary LL.D. of Cambridge University. He was given the rank of Highness equivalent to Prince by Queen Victoria" while still but a youth, and since the close of the World "War has been still more highly honored by King George in the grant of rank and status of a chief of the first class, entitled to a salute of eleven guns, in recognition of loyal services. lie is Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Umpire, the chief of the British orders in India, as well as Grand Commander of the order of the Indian Star, and a Prince of the Order of the Royal Crown. Being a spiritual and not a temporal ruler, the Aga Khan has no earthly realms and no stated income. His official residence is Aga Hall, in the city of Bombay, the Moslem capital of India, but the most of his time is spent in Europe, chiefly in England or France. His income is derived wholly from the voluntary tributes of "the Faithful" over whom he rules, but it is something enormous, if not in fact, incalculable, placing at his personal disposal financial resources exceeding, in all probability, those of cither the Sultan or the Pope. Individually he is a man of deep culture and genuine erudition, a polished man of the world who can also be exceedingly democratic when he cares to. Both spiritually and politically he is a thinker as well as a man of action and is the author of a noted work of a politico-economical nature, "India in Transition," published in London in 1918. As is well known, the condition of affairs in India lias, since the breaking out of the World War, been very disquieting to the British goAernment. The vast population, to use a" dearly beloved newspaper phrase, is "seething with unrest," and the job of "keeping the lid on" is a tremendous one. In doing this the religious factor is one of the principal ones and here the authority of the Aga Khan has proved of immense aid to England. For this reason the British government is said to be now intriguing to elevate him to the double rank of not only Iman of the Shiah, but Caliph of the Sunnites as well ; thereby rendering him the supreme head of all Islams 225,000,000 souls. This is to be done by deposing the Sultan from his position of Caliph of the Faithful. WOULD HE CALirn. One . of the most remarkable documents of recent international diplomacy was the letter addressed to the present Prime Minister of the new Turkish Republic, Ismet Pasha, by the Aga Khan, on November 24 last and dated from London. While very discreetly phrased, in the fine diplomatic jargon of modern statesmanship, this communication, reduced to "brass tacks," amounts to nothing more nor less than a pressing request to the Turkish government to "fire" the unfortunate ex-Sultan Mohammed VI., now an exile in England, from his dominion as Caliph and confer that position upon the Aga Khan himself. The ground taken for this extraordinary request is that since the Sultan has lost his throne and temporal power, he is not longer fit to be a great spiritual lord, and should renounce his rule in favor of the new aspirant. Additional force is lent to this plea because the Aga Khan puts forward the claim of being himself a descendant of Mahomed in the forty-eighth generation, by direct line tracing back to Fatima, daughter of the Prophet. Those who have investigated these claims which have been made for centuries by the ancestors of the Aga Khan who preceded him as Imams of the Hindoo Moslems assert that they are incapable of his-torical substantiation. In other words, there is a flaw in his pedigree, and his true descent from Mahomed as doubtful as that of those steeds of the desert sold to imaginative and , trustful Europeans with certificates that they run back, in the female line, directly to one of those "mares of Mahomed" which modern investigation has proved to be myths. In which respect they were the prototypes of those famous "Royal marcs" to which so many English thoroughbreds trace back, also in the female line. This, however, in no way affects the standing of the Aga Khan.- Only schismatics of his own faith and Occidental unbelievers would for a moment insinuate a doubt of the authenticity of his descent from Islams founder. With his own 100-odd millions it is a settled conviction which nothing can shake. TUItF IS OVERLOOKED. It is characteristic of the misinformation to be derived from popular handbooks that the English "Whos Who" lists the "recreations" of the Aga Khan as "golf, cycling, motoring and travel." Not a word is said of his connection with the turf, in which respect he is known to all the world whereas nobody ever heard of him, we imagine, outside a limited circle, as either a golfer or a cyclist ; while as for motoring, who nowadays can think of that as a "recreation," especially for a great potentate? The addiction of the native princes of India to the turf is notorious. The most notable of them receive English educations and with them imbibe a love for the thoroughbred. In this regard the Aga Khan has proved only one of many of his compatriots. But owing to his immense resources and absolute authority barring only his political subserviency to the British government he "nas been able to far outstrip them all. He maintains a magnificent racing establishment not only in England but one in France as well, the sensational filly Mumtaz Mahal being at present the "bright particular star." It has just been announced that he will begin breeding race horses in Ireland, having acquired the stud farm of Captain Greer in the Curragh, together with the properties of Sheshoon Lodge and Whitehall. And, as was some time ago announced in Daily Racing Form, he has made inquiries with a view to engaging some of his horses in some American stakes. The Aga Khans outstanding prominence on the English and French turf is a comparatively recent development, but previously he had raced horses in India, it is stated, for years. This will give American turfmen some faint idea of the truly extraordinary personage who may, quite possibly, be seen at some American race tracks within the next year or two. Does not the brief outline given of his history make good the distinction in the beginning conferred upon him? that of being the most picturesquely interesting personality " ever identified with the thoroughbred turf.

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