Photographer, Sarfraz Sadaruddin, Releases Two Unique 1957 Portraits of His Highness the Aga Khan Under a Creative Commons License — A First!


Editor’s note: Among the photos we recently published of His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to the Aga Khan Primary School, Nairobi (see link at bottom of this page), was a unique, previously unpublished portrait of the Aga Khan. We are pleased to inform readers that the photographer of that portrait, Sarfraz Sadaruddin of Vancouver, Canada, has approached us and generously provided us not only with permission to publish his photograph, but also a sister portrait taken at the same time (both of which are reproduced below). He has also provided special permission, under a Creative Commons License, for others to use these portraits, subject to the conditions and restrictions laid out below.

Ismaili readers of this website will be particularly happy to see these two unique portraits of their beloved 49th Imam as they prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Simerg takes this opportunity to offer congratulations to all Ismailis as well as the entire Muslim world on the most auspicious occasion of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadhan, and wishes everyone barakah (happiness) and success in all walks of life. We pray for peace and unity amongst Muslims everywhere to please Almighty God, and thus gain more from Allah’s continuous and endless wonderful blessings to mankind.



By Mohib Ebrahim

During His Highness the Aga Khan’s 1957 visit to East Africa — his first after becoming Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan hosted a private function at his residence for many dignitaries — including the late Tom Mboya — and Ismaili community leaders. Sarfraz Sadaruddin, then 19, was one of the photographers covering the event and, never one to be shy, requested the Aga Khan if he could take some portraits of him. The Aga Khan graciously agreed, asking Sarfraz to proceed to the rear garden where he could take the pictures he needed while the Aga Khan was engaged with his guests there and this was when and where these two portraits were taken.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin during Expo 1986.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin during Expo 1986.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin, son of the late Rai A.M. Sadaruddin (see Voices: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Eloquent Persian Quatrain by 48th Ismaili Imam Graces a 1923 Invitation For Talk About Imamat), was born in Nairobi, Kenya where he developed a passion for photography in his mid-teens and apprenticed with Kodak Limited for five years before moving to Hamburg, Germany, in 1960 where, on scholarship, he attended Agfa’s training college. Later, he moved to London to continue his photography studies at Ealing Technical College and then worked as a professional, freelance photographer, in the U.K. and continent, for newspapers, advertising firms and Royalty. In 1980, he moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he now resides and continues covering events.


In Kenya, since the Aga Khan’s coronation in 1957 until he left in the 1960s, Sarfraz was a key, official photographer at the Aga Khan’s functions in Nairobi. He covered the 49th Ismaili Imam’s Nairobi Enthronement (Takhtnashini) Ceremony, the opening ceremony of the Platinum Jubilee Hospital, now the Aga Khan University Hospital, and the entire Kenya leg of the 1959 visit including opening ceremony of the Aga Khan High School. He was also invited to cover the Aga Khan’s visit to the Aga Khan Primary School and many other private events the Aga Khan attended or hosted.

In London, Sarfraz was invited to cover the Foundation Stone ceremony of the Ismaili Centre as well as the Aga Khan’s community visits and functions.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin taking pictures during His Highness the Aga Khan's Vancouver Silver Jubilee visit in 1983.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin taking pictures during His Highness the Aga Khan’s Vancouver Silver Jubilee visit in 1983.

In Vancouver, Sarfraz continued to cover the Ismaili Imam’s visits, including extensive coverage of the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, which took place in the presence of then Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, then British Columbia Premier, Bill Bennett, and His Highness the Aga Khan.

Also in Vancouver, outside of the community, Sarfraz was an official press photographer for many visits of Royalty as well as the World Expo, 1986. Key Expo events he covered include the opening by His Royal Highness Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana and twenty “National Days.” He was complimented by the then Lieutenant Governor of BC, The Hon. Robert G. Rogers, for his outstanding work.

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In order that the Jamat may enjoy and use these two portraits, Sarfraz is releasing them under under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND) — the first time, to my knowledge, photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam, have been so generously shared for the Jamat to enjoy without fear of copyright infringement. Please note the images are still copyright and not in the public domain, but the license does allow them to be re-used non-commercially, without modification and with credit as embedded in the images and set out as below, including the web-link:

His Highness the Aga Khan portrait, Kenya, 1957 by Sarfraz Sadaruddin, © 1957 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).

Sarfraz kindly requests that all those who have copied and republished his photograph from the original posting on Simerg and its sister photoblog Simergphotos, to please add the above credit and replace their images with the one published here.

Date posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Copyright: Mohib Ebrahim. 2014.


About the Author: Mohib Ebrahim is Sarfraz’s nephew, grandson of the late Rai A.M. Sadaruddin and founder of the NanoWisdoms Archive (, a unique website dedicated solely to the Ismaili Imamat’s speeches, interviews and writings launched in 2011 upon receiving special permission from Aiglemont to publish the Aga Khan’s speeches. With over 500 readings and thousands of quotes it is the most comprehensive, public collection of Imamat knowledge available today.

Some of Mohib’s other articles on this website:

1. His Highness the Aga Khan and Canada: A Profound Affinity – But Why Canada?
2. Topan, Paroo and Visram – The Three Kings Without Crowns


Link to photos taken at the Aga Khan Primary School:

My Late Mother, Jean Kirk, and Her Special Collection of Rare Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visits to the Aga Khan Primary School in Nairobi by Allison Wallace