Aga Khan III (1877–1957) was the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Through his intimate knowledge of Eastern as well as Western cultures, he was uniquely placed to play a significant role in the international affairs of his time, and his long public career had many dimensions. He was a member of the Indian Imperial Legislative Council (1902–1904), President of the All India Muslim League (1906–1913), and founder of the All India Muslim Conference (1928–29). He successfully campaigned for separate electorates for all Muslims of India, leading a delegation in 1906 to the Viceroy for this purpose. He was the leader of the Muslim, and the entire Indian, delegation to the Round Table Conference in London (1930–32), which discussed India’s constitutional future. In 1934 he was appointed a member of the British Privy Council. He served as India’s representative at the Conference for the Reduction of Armaments in Geneva in 1932, and as the chief delegate of India at the League of Nations in the 1930s. In 1937 he was unanimously elected President of the League.
Aga Khan III was a social reformer whose concerns included the alleviation of rural poverty and raising the social status of women in society. An advocate of modern education, he became an ardent supporter of male and female educational advancement in India and East Africa, and played a key role in the development of the Muslim University of Aligarh. A keen connoisseur of culture, he advocated a truly multicultural education blending the best and highest of Western and Eastern literary classics. He was a champion of amity between nations and peoples. In India he consistently supported the ideal of Hindu–Muslim unity, reminding both that India was their common parent. On the international scene he strove consistently for world peace.
Coming from diverse and often near–unobtainable sources, this monumental work covering the years from 1902 to 1955, represents the first ever systematic publication of the speeches and writings of a major Muslim figure on the world stage in the first half of the 20th century. Among the topics covered are constitutional progress in India, education, rural development, Hindu–Muslim unity, Indians in Africa, the renaissance of Islamic culture, the importance of science and technology, the status of women, Islam in the modern age and Pan–Islamism.