Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Recollection of Imam’s Visit to a Family Shop; A Story about the Diamond Jubilee Scale and…Does it (Still) Work?

1. Zul Khoja recalls  a memorable visit by the Imam to their family shop in South Africa

Aga Khan III Visits Ismaili Businesses in South Africa

The above is a picture of Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah when he came to our shop during his South African visit in 1945. I remember somethings very vividly. We were all very excited about the visit and the Mulaqat with the Imam. The Jamati  leaders, in their wisdom,  decided that the Imam would visit every business for Barakah and have a picture taken with the family. Our shop floor was red cement. We spent several days applying red polish and made sure that it was clean and shiny. The entire store was cleaned, dusted and spotless.

When the day arrived we were not too sure of the exact time, because Mawla sometimes spoke to the family members a little longer than others. When he arrived in front of the store we immediately took our places and there he was in His Majesty! He immediately sat down in the chair reserved for him and it so happened that the sun was shining very bright that day (why wouldn’t it?) and it reflected off the red shiny floor. Hence the Imam looking up. It was a truly memorable experience and his visit is still vivid today after fifty years! I do not know what the Imam said to my parents and grandmother.


2. Al-Karim (Korji) Pirani Tells a Story behind the Diamond Jubilee Scale

Aga Khan III delivering an address at the Diamond Jubilee in Dar-es-Salaam

The Scale then...

Last year my family and I travelled to Tanzania for a holiday. We had lived close to Upanga Jamatkhana when we were residents in Tanzania and decided to go to the Jamatkhana during our visit. We found to our amazement that the scale that was used to weigh Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah during his Diamond jubilee was still there, on the ground floor, with some other memorabilia including photographs from the celebrations and a huge wooden plaque (appx. 5′ x 2′ or may be larger) containing a handwritten inscription about the Diamond Jubilee event (note the stylish first letter of each paragraph).

Aga Khan III Diamond Jubilee Scale

The Scale Upanga Jamatkhana, Dar-es-Salaam

The scale was first used in Mumbai for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations there and as my father Abdul (Korji) Pirani of Toronto recalls, it was shipped to Dar-es-Salaam upon the completion of the ceremonies in India. As a note, the scale had been donated by my late grandfather (Itmadi Mohamed Korji Pirani) for the Diamond Jubilee in India. I believe the cost was approximately 8000 rupees. The stage, on the other hand, was much more expensive – about 40 to 50,000 rupees – and had been donated by another family.

Aga Khan III Diamond Jubilee Plaque

Diamond Jubilee of the memorabilia at Upanga Jamatkhana ( See transcript below).

With a slight trepidation my son, Jamil, climbed up on to the scale to see whether it still worked after 65 years – and lo, the needle went up (see photo). With minor tuning and adjustment it might show a weight as  accurate as any of today’s electronic gadgets but like many other antiquated objects of the past, such as computers, it is quite huge and bulky.

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Scale with Jamil

The scale tipping to take Jamil's weight during his recent visit to Dar-es-Salaam

The scale, such as the one shown here, might be of historical importance and perhaps one day find its proper place in a museum! We were gratified that the scale and the memorabilia have been preserved by the institutions and the Jamat.


Both the above contributors, Alijah Zul Khoja and Al-Karim Pirani, are members of the Ottawa Jamat, Canada.

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Other anecdote:

Voices: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Eloquent Persian Quatrain by 48th Ismaili Imam Graces a 1923 Invitation For Talk About Imamat

Voices: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Stories from Readers (I)



Here on this very ground, our beloved 48th
Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan III Hazrat
Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was
weighed against Diamonds by His followers,
the Ismailis on 10th August, 1946 as part
of His Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.

Over 70,000 people, among them the
representatives of the British Crown, members
of the diplomatic corps and other distinguished
personalities witnessed this great event.
Thousands of Ismailis from all over Tanganyika
and Africa, and also from other parts of the
world came to attend this grand occasion.

The value of the diamonds placed on the scale
was £648,000. This amount was presented to
the Holy Imam by His followers as an unconditional

However, the Holy Imam did not take the said
amount for Himself but graciously gave it back to
His followers, and out of it, as per His wish, was
born the Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust
Limited and its offshoots, as well as the cooperative
socities’, [sic] cooperations, and societies with their
‘Home for All’ schemes.

This ceremony in all its glory signified the
unbounded devotion of the Ismailis for their
Beloved Imam, and above all, the Love
of the Imam for His Spiritual children.


Please read other articles in special series on Aga Khan III:

Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Successor and a Son Reflect on Accomplishments of the 48th Ismaili Imam

Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – The Imam of the Socio-Economic Revolution

Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – A Muslim’s Analysis of Lessons that Can be Learnt from the 48th Ismaili Imam

Literary Reading: Hazrat Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Links to Movies at British Pathe

Literary Reading: Hazrat Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – A “Mendicant” Who Transformed a Dream into Reality and Stirred the Soul of a Bitter Critic

Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Imam’s Message in South Africa Addressed Artificial Barriers, Unity, Education for All, and Damaging Social Habits

Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – The Road to Happiness and The Concept of Life

Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Defender of Islam, Activist for Justice and Equality, Confidence Booster, And Deliverer of Joy

Voices: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Eloquent Persian Quatrain by 48th Ismaili Imam Graces a 1923 Invitation For Talk About Imamat

7 thoughts on “Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Recollection of Imam’s Visit to a Family Shop; A Story about the Diamond Jubilee Scale and…Does it (Still) Work?

  1. Does any body know about the history of Hassanali Korji, born on 18th December 1918, in Mota Khadba, Taluka Lalpur, Dist: Jamnagar, State of Gujarat. India.

  2. You bring back some lasting memories as I was then just a few years old past the age of an infant in my first or second Primary School days. We from Kampala left via train to Mombasa and then by a boat called ‘Vasana’ please correct me if wrong! Our family minus one of the brothers were all on the deck as the whole idea of the sea was totally alien to me. My mother has prepared some thepla, puri, chevdo etc. to eat on the way sharing these with other families around. We reached Dar-es-salaam where the Diamond Jubilee was to be. My parents were then united by the late-coming son who had stayed behind so that the house could be safe as long as possible. Then we stayed at Akbar camp where it was very easy to lose your way. My youngest brother Nizar and I were thrilled to feel the texture of sand so we filled-up our shoes with it. Parents persuaded us to empty them!…Please forgive these very childlike memories but they are REAL.

  3. Dear Brother

    We love reviving our Diamond Jubilee Memories, and the episodes have given us unbounded joy. Those were indeed graceful days. It was so unique, so divine and there was so much pomp and ceremony that no historian would ever, ever, be able to describe the beauty of those days.

    Thank you
    Hassanali Walji

  4. Thank you for starting this wonderful series of sharing. Many of the personal encounters with the Imam would otherwise be unknown to the younger generations. In those days the 48th Imam gave personal audiences to individual families, and this is unknown and very remote now.

    Though I was only nine years old in the Jubilee, I can still recall the magnitude of the celebrations in Bombay when an empty hospital called Parsi General was acquired to house the visitors from many countries who came down to be a part of the celebrations. There used to be a Mulaqat with the Imam almost everyday and lots of Sagri Dham (delicious food) and Dandhia Raas wherever the Ismailis lived. There was an air of celebration all over the city with a lot of lighting done to decorate the buildings where Ismailis lived. Every evening we came out to walk by the lighted buildings to be a part of celebration. It was indeed an event to remember, and recall it many many times in our life time.

  5. Thank you for this fine series about the 48th Ismaili Imam. Hopefully more individuals will come forward with anecdotes and photographs from the period of the previous Imamat – these stories are informative, interesting and, quite often, inspiring.

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