Countdown to Diamond Jubilee: Snapshots of Imamat – 1957 to 1962

Masnadnashini, Bombay, 1958. Photo: 25 Years in Pictures
Masnadnashini, Bombay, 1958. Photo: 25 Years in Pictures

Mawlana Hazar Imam became the forty-ninth hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims on July 11, 1957 while still a student at Harvard University. He has led the community through political, economic, and social changes: from space exploration to end of colonial rule and the Cold War, the development of mass media communications, and advancements in medical technology.

We will bring you snapshots of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vast work in which he has made significant impacts in various fields. We will also highlight a selected number of world events to reflect on the changing times, focusing largely on developments in science and technology.

Masnadnashini held in Dar es-Salaam (1957), Nairobi (1957), Kampala (1957), Bombay (1958), Karachi (1958), Dacca (1958).

The huge new atomic power stations, the Sputniks and the vast throbbing machines of modern industrial life are symbols of a fresh chapter in material progress…I do not believe that we should fear material progress, nor should we condemn it. The danger is that it could become an obsession in our lives and that it could dominate our way of thinking. There is no reason why our traditions and our faith should stop us from moving with our times, nor in fact why we should not lead our fellowmen to new spheres of knowledge and learning….our traditions and our religion will always inspire the creations of our hands and minds.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
Masnadnashini, Karachi, Pakistan, January 23, 1958
Ilm, July 1977

Mawlana Hazar Imam

  • granted an audience to the representatives of the global Jamat at this residence in Villa Barkat, Switzerland (1957).
  • attended the final resting ceremony of his grandfather in Aswan, Egypt (1959).
  • presided over the first conference of the presidents of the world Ismailia Associations in Cannes, France (1961).
  • established the Aga Khan Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University in Beirut (1962).
  • approved The Constitution of the Councils and Jamats of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims of Pakistan (1962).


  • Aga Khan Platinum Jubilee Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya; Wandegaya Mosque in Kampala, Uganda; the Aga Khan Nursery School in Kisumu, Kenya; Aga Khan Schools in Kharadar, Karachi, Pakistan; Karimabad Jamatkhana in Dacca (1957-1962).


  • United States as Honorary Chairman of the Africa Research Foundation for its health and research projects in Africa (1959).
  • Hunza the first Imam to do so in 1,400 years of Ismaili history (1960).
  • Syria, South Africa, Congo (Zaire), London, and Portuguese East Africa, Pakistan, East Africa, laying the foundations of and opening Aga Khan schools, dispensaries, and fitness clubs. (1960-1961)

Other events

  • interviewed for the first time as Imam by BBC Television, London, UK (1958).
  • appointed Patron-in-Chief of the East African Muslim Welfare Society (1961).
  • addressed the Lions Club in Nairobi, Kenya (1961), Rotary Club Mombasa (1961) on education, and Rotary Club Bombay (1961).
  • won the Robert of Kandahar Cup at Davos, Switzerland for downhill skiing (1962).
  • announced plans to build a tourist resort in Sardinia over a period of 15 years.

In September 1958, Mawlana Hazar Imam resumed his studies at Harvard University, graduating in 1959 with BA degree.

1957-1962 – Selected World Events

  • Prince Sadruddin was appointed Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1959). He served as Deputy High Commissioner for Refugess from 1962-1965. UNHCR
  • Prince Alykhan was appointed Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations from February 1958 to May 1960. Wikipedia
  • The Soviet Union launched Sputnik I (1957) – the world’s first artificial satellite, ushering a new political, military, technological, and scientific developments era as well as the US-USSR space race. It also led directly to the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA.
  • First satellite to transmit voice signals launched by US government’s Project SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment) from Cape Canaveral, Florida (1958). Ency. Britannica
  • The first working laser (“Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”) was built (1960). In 1917, Einstein had laid the foundation for the laser when he introduced the concept of stimulated emission.
  • Echo IA, the first communications satellite was successfully launched, ushering an era of communications satellites (1960).
  • Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space, when his spacecraft orbited the earth (1961).
  • Unimation’s industrial robot Unimate, considered the world’s first industrial robot, worked on General Motors’ automobile assembly line (1961).
  • The Berlin Wall was erected (1961).
  • In South Africa, Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment at Robben Island prison (1962).
  • First videogame Spacewar was written (1962).
  • General Electric produced the light-emitting diode (LED) (1962).

For titles and honours bestowed upon Mawlana Hazar Imam, visit AKDN or view the matrix.

The Ismaili Canada (various issues)
25 Years in Pictures, The Silver Jubilee
Ilm and Hikmat (various issues)

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

Countdown to Diamond Jubilee Series

One thought

  1. Congratulations to all the players in the Dubai event, delighted to see so many Ismaili’s competing in the games,
    never thought we have so many athletes, good luck to all of you who are competing and supported by Ismaili’s
    around the world. Keep it up


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