Voices: Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III – Historic Photos and Imam’s Recognition of Services Rendered by the Family of Itmadi Kassam Kothari of Jamnagar

The late Khadija Kothari who preserved the memories and photos of the Kothari family. Photo: Taj/Bashir Kothari.

Editor’s note: We have recently received six more historical photographs from the collection of the Kothari family. They are being added below just before the original write-up and photos which were submitted  by Ms. Taj Kothari of Florida and her brother, Bashir Kothari, of  Calgary, Alberta, for this website’s special series on the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III (H.H.The Aga Khan III). The photos were preserved over the years by their late mother Itmadibanu Khadija Kothari, pictured above. We would appreciate receiving names of individuals who have not been identified in the photos. Please use the feedback form below or email simerg@aol.com (subject: Kothari collection captions).

Mata Salamat, the Begum Aga Khan, is seen coming down the steps of the plane, as Imam Sultan Mahomed is garlanded by an Ismaili leader upon his arrival in Calcutta. At extreme left, holding an umbrella, is Itmadi Kassam Kothari. Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada

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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Mata Salamat being welcomed by the Ismaili leadership upon their arrival in Calcutta. Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada

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Members of the Supreme Council in Rajkot, India, with Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, 48th Imam of Shia Imami Ismili Muslims. Itmadi Kassam Kothari, seated on extreme left in middle row, was a member of the council for several years. Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada

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Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, the 48th Ismaili Imam, pictured in Rajkot, India, with the Ismaili leadership. Itmadi Kassam Kothari was the President of the Kathiawar Education Board and is shown seated to the Imam's left. In suit and tie, to the Imam's right, is the late Rai Pirbhai Rayani who later in life settled in Calgary, Canada. Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada

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Photo taken with Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah in Porbander, India, 1939, with members of the Jamat seen seated in the background in a tent structure. Itmadi Kassam Kothari is seen seated at left in a white Raj Darbari dress. Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada.

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Itmadi Kassam Kothari with Prince Aly Khan in Jamnagar, India, in 1942 (appx.). Photo: Bashir Kothari/Nuri Kothari, Calgary, Canada

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The Kothari’s write:

This opportunity to share a little bit about our family through this Web site has given us immense inner happiness in the sense that we feel that our family’s humble and sincere contribution is being recorded somewhere. We hope that other readers of this blog will share their stories too.

Itmadi Kassam Kothari

Alijah Ismail Punja Kothari and Itmadi Kassam Kothari, our grand father and father respectively, worked closely with our beloved 48th Imam, Hazrat Sultan Mahomedd Shah,  Aga Khan III, and also were brought up in the Raj Darbar. My grandfather was awarded a Justice Of Peace Medal by the British Government. This medal was saved by our late mother, Khadija, and is still with us today. As a note I might add that our family was provided special escort by the British whenever we left the home to go out. This was due to our closeness with the Maharajas (literally meaning great or high kings). India at that time was made up of princely states each with its own ruler.

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1927

The above photo was taken in 1927 at the residence of my grandfather, Alijah Ismail Punja Kothari, when Imam Sultan Mahomed, the Maharaja of Jamnagar – Jam Ranjit Singh – and the the King of Limbdi visited our bungalow in Jamnagar, Kathiawar. They held a meeting which was attended by our family members and also had lunch during the visit.

Seated on the ground in a traditional dress is my grandfather, Alijah Ismail Kothari. My father, Itmadi Kassam Kothari, is the person in the  white suit and tie, by the pole on the right. Standing between Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah and Jam Ranjit Singh, the Maharajah, is my grandfather’s older brother,  Premji Punja, with a white turban. As you can see, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah is in a white suit and hat and carrying a cane.

All the Highness’s were garlanded by my grandfather.

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1934

The demise of our grandfather –  a handwritten message from the Imam

Above is shown an image of a handwritten telegraph that my father received from our beloved 48th Imam when our grandfather, Alijah Ismail Kothari, passed away.

The telegraph was sent from Cannes and has an official receipt date in Jamnagar of 15 April, 1934. As the heading suggests, it was processed by the Indian Posts and Telegraph department. Some of the features that can be noted – number of words in the telegraph (25) and that it was dispatched from Cannes on 13 April at around 14:00 hours.

The transcript of the message is as follows:

“Dear Cassam Ismail Poonja care Ismaili Council Jamnagar

Deepest sympathy and blessing
your poor father whom
I will allways remember
for his great service Aga Khan”

On the lower half of the page is seen a Gujarati Tarjuma (translation) of the Imam’s message.

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1939

The photograph shown above was taken during our beloved 48th Imam’s visit to  the State of Jamnagar in February,1939. The same photo is published adjacent to page 342 in Dumasia’s book “The Aga Khan and his Ancestors.”

From left to right are His Highness Jam Saheb, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah and Jam Saheb’s brother, who is seen holding the Jam Saheb’s daughter in his arms. On the extreme right of the picture, in the volunteer’s uniform, is Major Lakhpati of Bombay, and standing beside him in the traditional dress of the Raj Darbar is our father, Itmadi Kassam Kothari. He wore the dress of the Raj Darbar since he was working with the Maharajas of Jamnagar.

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1954

The above photo was taken during Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s visit to London in 1954 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He and Mata Salamat met with the Mukhi and some other members of the Jamat at a hotel in London. Our (late) brother, Hadi, was among the Ismailis visiting London and he is in the picture seated on the floor, at left.

There is a very interesting account of how my brother got into the photo. Now, this anecdote was conveyed to us by one of the person’s who happened to be present, and we have the video of this conversation with him that was taken in Kenya in 2003.

It appears there wasn’t enough room for everyone to fit in the group photo and our brother, Hadi, could not join in.

But before the photo was taken, the Imam inquired of the Mukhi “aur koy baki hey?” (Is anyone left out?)

The Mukhi had told my brother there was no room and he could not join, but there was no way out of this question that the Imam asked, and the Mukhi replied: ” Khudavind ek baki hey” (one person is missing).

The Imam asked, ” Kon hai?” (who is that person?)

The Mukhi replied “Hadi Kothari.”

The Imam sought a confirmation, “Kothari?”

The Mukhi replied, “Yes, Khudavind.”

The Imam said: “Usko Bulao, uske Bap Dada ne Imam ke Ghar ki Bahoth seva kihe” (call him – his father and grandfather have rendered a lot of service to the House of the Imam).

Our brother, Hadi, passed away on May 24, 2004 leaving behind his widow, Khairoun, who lives in Nairobi, and two daughters. Hadi served in various capacities until 2000.

Hadi also appears in the next two group photos taken with  Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah’s two sons, the late Prince Aly Khan (June 13, 1911 – May 12, 1960) and late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (17 January 1933 – 12 May 2003).

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Prince Aly Khan in group photo

Group photo with Prince Aly Khan in Nairobi, Kenya. Hadi Kothari is seen standing in the centre behind Prince Aly Khan.

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Prince Sadruddin in group photo

Group photo with Prince Sadruddin, garlanded, in Nairobi, Kenya. Our brother Alijah Hadi Kothari, then a young man, standing first on the left.

Updated: April 2, 2012

For the special series on Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah please click H.H.The Aga Khan III.

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A note to all readers:

Please visit the What’s New page for all articles posted in this website (by date). And do visit the Home page if you are coming from an external link.

Other articles in the special Series on Aga Khan III:

26 thoughts on “Voices: Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III – Historic Photos and Imam’s Recognition of Services Rendered by the Family of Itmadi Kassam Kothari of Jamnagar

  1. Hello Taj bibi and Bashir bhai. You may not remember me but I am your Sheroo masi’s daughter, Ameena Sajjad and I live in Islamabad. You may be surprised how I got into the Simerg website and your article. I got interested to know the origin of names and the history of people like Kanjis, Meghjis , Vastas and my own dada Chhagla after watching the bollywood movie RAM LEELA. Somehow I started googling Burmese ismailis and got such a pleasant surprise. My mother used to mention your father with high respect.

  2. Excellent historical documents. Inshallah, I will add it in my second volume of
    “101-Ismaili Heroes” – Mumtaz Ali Tajddin, Karachi

  3. My wife Yasmin and I have been so much impressed with Kothari family’s contribution and sewa during the time of our 48th Imam Mowlana Sultan Mohamed Shah.The children of Kothari family today should be proud of the unbelievable work that their parents and grandparents have done for our Jamat and it will be remembered by this generation and the future generation to come.

    The grandfather Alijah Ismail Punja Kothari,the father Itmadi Kassam Kothari,the mother Khadija Kothari,the uncles, the brothers, the sisters and the others in Kothari family will be remembered in our history books for their outstanding dedication to our Ismaili Community. Amazingly,the children of Kothari family today are following the footsteps of their parents and grand parents in serving and helping the members of our Jamat.Congratulations! you have earned the respect of my family.

  4. Hello Bashir! These are beautiful pics , you managed to carry these with all the moving you ‘ve done !! Congratulations and thanks to the Ruhanis that carried us through these years and we owe our successes to those who sacrificed for us This is Gulshy Harjee , you recall my Dad Sadru Kiyugi/karanga and my sister Yasmin and brother Karim Harjee.

  5. Congratulations and best wishes to the Kothari family for this magnificent lineage and ancestry in the service of the Imam. Bashir, I recall the days in Moshi, Tanzania where we attended Mawenzi Secondary School with your sisters Nuri, Gulbanu and Yasmin. My late uncle “Mamu” Hassam Habib Samji used to be your good friend. It is indeed a blessing to learn more about your family history.

  6. Lovely family history, and to see the history with Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah. Hadi was a close friend of my father, Shermohamed Varas Kassem Jinnah, and I grew up calling him Hadi kaka. I have many fond and funny memories of him from Nairobi and our home in Kampala. Great to see him remembered in these pictures.

  7. Thank you for sharing a lovely devoted family history. May Mawla bless your future generation with Rehmat and happiness of khidmat. Amen. The message with all that you have shared with us is that Hazar Imam is always with us. Amen. He never forgets us, and specially the silent khidmat guzars.
    Ya Ali Madad.
    Zulfiqar and Rukshana Khashwji
    Visalia, CA.

  8. Taj,
    Thanks a lot for sharing the priceless pictures. You and your family are very fortunate to have served the House of Imam for generations. Keep up your wonderful work.
    Best wishes.

  9. Very pleased to see these photographs and read the article. I remember the name of Hadi Kothari as he was in Nairobi, Kenya. He did a lot of Seva for His Highness Shah Karim. What a legacy to leave for one’s descendants.

    Shirin Hirji

  10. We were very grateful to you for publishing the old photos of Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah, and the family who were lucky to render the services to Imam. I would also like to add my grandfather(nanabapa) Rai Mohammedali Hasham Moorji who got the chance to do the service to Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah in Dar es salaam, Tanzania, the year 1946. My nanabapa was the major and was bodyguard of Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah. Our all family were blessed by imam. My nanabapa got the chance to sit with Mowlabapa and Begum (Mata salamat) for the picture with his family. The picture is still lying with our sibling who are residing in Canada.

  11. By serving the Imam and the Jamat your family has earned the Imam’s love and blessings. May Mawla Pak bless your family with his choicest blessings, peace and success.

  12. These are amazing pictures shared by Kohtari family, words are not enough to thank the family for their service. I was fortunate enough to meet Bashir’s Mum and sister when they were visiting him in Tanga in 1970 while I was a student border at BP Babul’s house.

  13. It is so wonderful to read about our family’s history through this site. My Grandfather was Mehndi Kassam Kothari, (married to Kulsum Kothari) and younger brother to Hadi Kothari. It makes me proud to know that this is my lineage. I have shared this with my children. Thank you Simerg for posting this. It is greatly appreciated.

  14. My dear Ismaili brothers,

    I am very happy to see these holy pictures of our beloved Imam (a.s). I am in Alexandria, Egypt, for the past 1 year and my inner thrust is to meet my Ismaili brothers and sisters. If you know of any Ismailis in Alexandria or a close city, please let me know.

    Waiting for your kind reply.
    Regards
    Azam

    • Hello Azam Khan

      I am happy to know that you are interested in the holy pictures and history of our Imams. I am grandson of the person in the above pictures and I will be in Alexandria for one night at Le Metropole Hotel on Nov. 3, 2010. If you wish to meet me please email me. Best time to meet would be after 8.00 pm at the hotel on November 3, 2010.

      Hope to hear from you.

      Bashir

  15. It’s always good to read things about our beloved Imams. I just came across the story of your (Kothari) family’s service through this Web site. These are wonderful memories of your family’s services to the Imam of the Time and I convey my greetings to the entire family.

  16. We convey condolence to the family members who died in Imams khidmat and pray for peace on their soul, Ameen.

  17. Ya Ali Madad, and thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures of Hazrat Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah and his family. May Mawla help everyone to serve him in this manner. Ameen!

  18. An excellent example of how we can bring out and preserve the historical records of the Ismaili Jamat for the benefit and inspiration of the present and future generations.

  19. Congratulations to this family. Itmadibanoo Khatija Kassam Ismail Kothari – daughter of Rai Kanji and Mariam Vasta of Burma also served the House of Imam by overseeing the first ever health clinic for mothers and their babies in Jamnagar and served as Mukhisaheb and Mukhianisaheba for 5 years in Jamnagar. The Kothari family now resides in Calgary, Vancour and Miami and all the children are involved in way or other in serving the Imam.

  20. You are doing excellent work by publishing photos which the majority of the Jamat has not seen. They are unforgettable. Prayers to Mawla for your continuing strength. We look forward to seeing more such collections so that the new generation becomes aware of our past, and the glory of the Imam.

    Nizar Dudhwalla.

  21. The work in your website is of a very high quality and will remain for generations for people to search about the life of our late Imam. It is amazing how you have gathered out old photos from your archives and other sources and put them in the proper context. With great appreciation and humility, Greetings!

  22. Excellent read to understand the closeness of your family to the Imam of the time. I had the pleasure to know your mother during my term as Kamadia of NW Jamat Khana 81/83 and unfortunately briefly in 2001 prior to her death at the Foothills Hospital. Bravo
    to your family for the wonderful services rendered to the Imam and the community.

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