Aga Khan IV
Prince Karim, Aga Khan IV, NPk
The Nishan-e-Pakistan is the highest of civil awards and decorations given by the Government of Pakistan for the highest degree of service to the country and nation of Pakistan...

Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, CC
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

Order of Christ (Portugal)
The Military Order of Christ previously the Royal Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ was the heritage of the Knights Templar in Portugal, after the suppression of the Templars in 1312...

Order of Prince Henry (Ordem do Infante Dom Henrique)
The Order of Prince Henry the Navigator is a Portuguese National Order of Knighthood created on June 2, 1960, to commemorate the fifth centenary of the death of the Infante Henry the Navigator , fifth son of King John I of Portugal and his queen, Philippa of Lancaster...

, GCM  is the 49th and current Imam of the Shia Imami Nizari Ismaili Muslims. He has held this position under the title of Aga Khan
Aga Khan
Aga Khan is the hereditary title of the Imam of the largest branch of the Ismā'īlī followers of the Shī‘a faith. They affirm the Imamat of the descendants of Ismail ibn Jafar, eldest son of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, while the larger Twelver branch of Shi`ism follows Ismail's younger brother Musa...

 since July 11, 1957, when, at the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather, Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
Aga Khan III
Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GCVO, PC was the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. 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 nominated to represent India to...

. The Aga Khan is responsible for the interpretation of the faith for his followers and as part of the office of the Imamate
The word Imamate is an Arabic word with an English language suffix meaning leadership. Its use in theology is confined to Islam.-Theological usage:...

, endeavors to improve the quality of their lives and the communities where they live.

Since his ascension to the Imamate, the Aga Khan has been involved in complex political and economic changes which have affected his followers, including the independence of African countries from colonial rule, expulsion of Asians from Uganda, the independence of Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 from the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the continuous turmoil in Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...


The Aga Khan is particularly interested in the elimination of global poverty; the advancement of women; the promotion of Islamic culture, art, and architecture; and promoting pluralistic values in society.

The Aga Khan Awards for Architecture seeks to make a better place in physical terms. This means trying to bring values into environments, buildings, and contexts that improve the quality of life for future generations."

Interview with Robert Ivy (FAIA), Architectural Record, August 31, 2001

There are many interpretations of Islam within the wider Islamic community, but generally we are instructed to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it.

Interview with Robert Ivy (FAIA), Architectural Record, August 31, 2001