The Memoirs of Aga Khan Ismaili NET WEB

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PREFACE BY W SOMERSET MAUGHAM,Part One CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH. I A Bridge Across the Years 3,II Islam the Religion of My Ancestors 8. III Boyhood in India 32,IV I Visit the Western World 55. Part Two YOUNG MANHOOD,V Monarchs Diplomats and Politicians 85. VI The Edwardian Era Begins 98,VIII Czarist Russia 148.
VIII The First World War161,Part Three THE MIDDLE YEARS. IX The End of the Ottoman Empire 179,X A Respite from Public Life 204. XI Foreshadowings of Self Government in India 218, XII Policies and Personalities at the League of Nations 248. Part Four A NEW ERA,XIII The Second World War 289,XIV Post war Years with Friends and Family 327. XV People I Have Known 336,XVI Toward the Future 347.
Publication Information Book Title The Memoirs of Aga Khan World Enough and Time. Contributors Aga Khan author Publisher Simon and Schuster Place of Publication New. York Publication Year 1954,by W Somerset Maugham, I HAVE KNOWN the Aga Khan for many years He has been a kind and helpful friend The. introductions he gave me when I spent a winter in India enabled me to profit by the rich. experience of my sojourn in that wonderful country as otherwise I could never have done so. that when he paid me the compliment of asking me to write a preface to his autobiography I. was glad to be given the opportunity to do him this small and really unnecessary service. For the book speaks for itself It was not till I had read it that it was borne upon me how. difficult a task I was undertaking The Aga Khan has led a full life He has been a great. traveler and there are few parts of the world that he has not visited either for pleasure or. because his political and religious interests made it necessary He has been a great theater. goer he has loved the opera and the ballet He is an assiduous reader He has been occupied. in affairs in which the fate of nations was involved He has bred horses and raced them He. has been on terms of close friendship with kings and princes of the blood royal maharajahs. viceroys field marshals actors and actresses trainers golf professionals society beauties and. society entertainers He has founded a university As head of a widely diffused sect the. Ismailis he has throughout his life sedulously endeavored to further the welfare spiritual and. material of his countless followers Toward the end of this autobiography he remarks that he. has never once been bored That alone is enough to mark the Aga Khan out as a remarkable. I must tell the reader at once that I am incompetent to deal with some of his multifarious. activities I know nothing of racing I am so little interested in it that one day when I was. lunching with the Aga Khan just before Tulyar won the Derby we talked only of India and I. never thought of asking him whether his horse had a chance of winning I know no more of. politics than the ordinary newspaper reader For long years the Aga Khan was intimately. concerned with them His advice was constantly sought and it was generally sound He. believed in moderation Of one fact he writes my years in public life have convinced me. that the value of a compromise is that it can supply a bridge across a difficult period and later. having employed it it is often possible to bring into effect the fullscale measures of reform. which originally would have been rejected out of hand He knew well the statesmen on. whose decisions during the last fifty years great events depended It is seldom he passes a. harsh judgment on them He pays generous tribute to their integrity intelligence patriotism. wide knowledge and experience It seems strange that with these valuable qualities they. should have landed us all in the sorry mess in which we now find ourselves. The Aga Khan is a charitable man and it goes against his grain to speak ill of others The. only occasion in this book of his on which he betrays bitterness is when he animadverts on. the behavior of our countrymen in their dealings with the inhabitants of the countries in. which in one way and another they held a predominant position in Egypt and India and in the. treaty ports of China During the eighties relations between British and Indians were in. general easy amiable and without strain and had they continued to be as they were then I. greatly doubt he writes whether political bitterness would have developed to the extent it. did and possibly something far less total than the severance of the Republic of India from the. Imperial connection would have been feasible It is a disquieting thought He goes on as. follows What happened to the Englishman has been to me all my life a source of wonder. and astonishment Suddenly it seemed that his prestige as a member of an imperial governing. race would be lost if he accepted those of a different color as fundamentally his equals The. color bar was no longer thought of as a physical difference but far more dangerously in the. end disastrously as an intellectual and spiritual difference The pernicious theory spread. that all Asiatics were a second class race and white men possessed some intrinsic and. unchallengeable superiority According to the Aga Khan the root cause of the attitude. adopted by the ruling class was fear and a lack of inner self confidence Another was the. presence in increasing numbers of British wives with no knowledge of or interest in the. customs and outlook of Indians They were no less narrow and provincial when forty years. after the time of which the Aga Khan writes I myself went to India These women who for. the most part came from modest homes in the country and since taxation was already high. had at the most a maid of all work to do the household chores found themselves in spacious. quarters with a number of servants to do their bidding It went to their heads I remember. having tea one day with the wife of a not very important official In England she might have. been a manicurist or a stenographer She asked me about my travels and when I told her that I. had spent most of my time in the Indian States she said You know we don t have anything. more to do with Indians than we can help One has to keep them at arm s length. The rest of the company agreed with her, The clubs were barred to Indians till by the influence of Lord Willingdon some were. persuaded to admit them but so far as I could see it made little difference since even in them. white and colored kept conspicuously apart, When I was in Hyderabad the Crown Prince asked me to lunch I had spent some time in. Bombay and was then on my way to Calcutta, I suppose you were made an honorary member of the Club when you were in Bombay he. said and when I told him I was he added And I suppose you ll be made an honorary. member of the Club at Calcutta,I hope so I answered.
Do you know the difference between the Club at Bombay and the Club at Calcutta he. asked me I shook my head In one they don t allow either dogs or Indians in the other they. do allow dogs, I couldn t for the life of me think what to say to that. But it was not only in India that these unhappy conditions prevailed. In the foreign concessions in China there was the same arrogant and hidebound colonialism. and the general attitude toward the Chinese was little short of outrageous All the best hotels. refused entry to Chinese except in wings specially set aside for them It was the same in. restaurants From European clubs they were totally excluded Even in shops a Chinese. customer would have to stand aside and wait to be served when a European or an American. came in after him and demanded attention Lord Cromer was the British Resident when the. Aga Khan went to Egypt He found the British were not merely in political control of the. country but assumed a social superiority which the Egyptians appeared humbly to accept. There was no common ground of social intercourse Therefore inevitably behind the fa ade. of humility there developed a sullen and brooding almost personal resentment which later. on needlessly bitterly poisoned the clash of Egyptian nationalism with Britain s interests as. the occupying power Now that the foreign concessions in China exist no more now that the. last British soldiers are leaving Egypt now that as the Aga Khan puts it British rule in India. has dissolved and passed away like early morning mist before strong sunlight the British. have left behind them a legacy of hatred We too may ask ourselves what happened to. Englishmen that caused them so to act as to arouse an antagonism which was bound in the. end to have such untoward consequences I am not satisfied with the explanation which the. Aga Khan gives I think it is to be sought rather in that hackneyed but consistently. disregarded aphorism of Lord Acton s Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts. absolutely, It is no good crying over spilt milk so the determinists tell us and if I have dwelt on this. subject it is with intention In the world of today the Americans occupy the position which. the British so long and for all their failings not ingloriously held Perhaps it would be to. their advantage to profit by our example and avoid making the errors that have cost us so. dearly A brown man can fire a Sten gun and shoot as straight as a white man a yellow man. can drop an atom bomb as efficiently What does this mean but that the color bar is now a. crass absurdity The British wanted to be loved and were convinced that they were the. Americans want to be loved too but are uneasily distressingly conscious that they are not. They find it hard to understand With their boundless generosity they have poured money into. the countries which two disastrous wars have reduced to poverty and it is natural that they. should wish to see it spent as they think fit and not always as the recipients would like to. spend it It is true enough that the man who pays the piper calls the tune but if it is a tune the. company finds it hard to dance to perhaps he is well advised to do his best so to modify it. that they find it easy Doubtless it is more blessed to give than to receive but it is also more. hazardous for you put the recipient of your bounty under an obligation and that is a condition. that only the very magnanimous can accept with good will Gratitude is not a virtue that. comes easily to the human race I do not think it can be denied that the British conferred great. benefits on the peoples over which they ruled but they humiliated them and so earned their. hatred The Americans would do well to remember it, But enough of that The Aga Khan is descended from the Prophet Mohammed through his. daughter Fatima and is descended also from the Fatimite Caliphs of Egypt He is justifiably. proud of his illustrious ancestry His grandfather also known as Aga Khan by inheritance. spiritual head of the Ismailis was a Persian nobleman son in law of the powerful monarch. Fateh Ali Shah and hereditary chieftain of Kerman Smarting under an insult that had been. put upon him he took up arms against a later Shah Mohammed by name was worsted and. forced to make his escape attended by a few horsemen through the deserts of Baluchistan to. Sind There he raised a troop of light horse and after various vicissitudes eventually reached. Bombay with his two hundred horsemen his relations clients and supporters He acquired a. vast estate upon which he built palaces innumerable smaller houses for his dependents and. outbuildings gardens and fountains He lived in feudal state and never had less than a. hundred horses in his stables He died when the author of this book was a child and was. succeeded by his son who however only survived him a short time upon which the Aga. Khan whom we know at the age of eight inherited his titles wealth and responsibilities. spiritual and temporal His education was conducted to prepare him for the sacred charge to. which he was born He was taught English French Arabic and Persian Religious instruction. was imparted to him by a renowned teacher of Islamic lore No holidays were allowed him. The only relief from work was on Saturdays and feast days when he received his followers. who came to offer gifts and do him homage, The Aga Khan raised to such eminence at so early an age was fortunate in that his mother. was a highly cultivated woman She was deeply versed in Persian and Arabic poetry as were. several of her ladies in waiting and at mealtimes at her table our conversation was of. literature of poetry or perhaps one of the elderly ladies who traveled to and from Teheran a. great deal would talk about her experiences at the Court of the Shah The Begum was a. mystic and habitually spent a great deal of time in prayer for spiritual enlightenment and. union with God I have in something near ecstasy he writes heard her read perhaps some. verses by Roumi or Hafiz with their exquisite analogies between man s beatific vision of the. Divine and the temporal beauty and colors of flowers the music and magic of the night and. the transient splendors of the Persian dawn The Aga Khan is a deeply religious man One of. the most interesting chapters in this book is that in which after telling of his personal beliefs. he gives a concise exposition of Islam as it is understood and practiced today It is there for. the reader to read and I will say no more about it than that it is sympathetic and persuasive It. may be that it will occur to him that the duties of man as he may learn them from the verses. XVI Toward the Future 347 INDEX 357 Publication Information Book Title The Memoirs of Aga Khan World Enough and Time Contributors Aga Khan author

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