The Ismaili Imam describes his daily and annual schedules in several interviews between 1965 and 1994. The Imam’s daily life is exhausting and filled with work and responsibilities which stem from his duties toward the Ismailis and from his position as the Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network. Contrary to the life of glamour and extravagance falsely attributed to him by the press, the Aga Khan is a workaholic. For several months of the year, the Ismaili Imam is visiting different countries to carry out his vast development work and practically lives on his airplane.
Since I have left Harvard I’ve travelled every single year amongst the community. One journey or two journeys, three journeys, four journeys a year to the communities depending on what the problems are and whether it is urgent that I should be there or not. Generally it would be visits to the schools or the hospitals or the sports centres or a mosque in the morning, appointments with leaders pending, planning development of the community in the future and I must say that if I am on to it, it’s just a series of appointments, discussions, visits and it’s very, very rough on everyone including the members of the community who follow these tours.
Fulfilling the mandate of the Imamat, being responsible for the spiritual and material well-being of millions of souls, and working tirelessly to raise quality of life is an impossible task for any normal human being. Nevertheless, the Ismaili Imam has taken on this mission despite the immense sacrifice and toll on his personal and family life:
Anyone facing a difficult situation has a certain solitude. But my days are occupied. I have no time to think about myself. I have moments of fatigue, of worry, but without having the feeling of abandonment. I am engaged. I have to weigh, reflect, seek to make a wise decision. But with my advisors, I escape isolation. Responsibility is a burden which we love. I received from my grandfather heavy responsibilities, but they are not weighty. It is not a burden. It is a pleasure to devote oneself to such a community, to work for people. Responsibilities are a burden we love to bear.
As for the slanderous reports about him in tabloids, the Ismaili Imam pays no attention to such “smears” and instead focuses on his work and mission:
I have always refused to talk about my private life. Any public man must have the right to have a private life and keep it private. In the West, intrusion into personal and private affairs is widely tolerated; this is not so in the East. Articles such as I have in mind do nothing for a public enlightenment; they are just a way of selling a magazine to a certain type of reader interested in such things.
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Article: Ismaili Gnosis
Image (background): https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanzim/13846165815/ (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Image (left): The Living Camera (Fair use/dealing) (Bill C-11, Section 29.21 http://bit.ly/1yRu6UZ)
Image (Right): Ilm magazine, H.H. Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Association for the UK, July 1977 via Simerg (Bill C-11, Section 29.21 http://bit.ly/1yRu6UZ)