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The wisdom of Aga Khan and his friend Churchill

Hassan Al Mustafa

Published: Updated:

“One of the facts that I learned in life is that the importance of the bargain lies in providing a passageway for difficult times, where you could use this passageway later on to implement comprehensive reforms that would have been impossible without the bargain in the first place.”

The “Political bargaining” between opponents and reaching common ground solutions, which was mentioned by Sultan Mohammed Shah Husseini, in his book “The Memoirs of Aga Khan”, is one of the features of this leader, who carried out very sensitive missions during and after the critical era of the British rule of India and the World war I in 1914.

Aga Khan III had a realistic vision towards the occurring events because he was responsible of leading several millions of Muslims distributed in a number of countries in the world, speaking different languages, and having diverse traditions and cultures. Aga Khan did not count on “violence”; he was well aware of his potentials as well as the weaknesses of others. We cannot disregard the historical side of this matter, especially that he spoke about his love for reading in his memoirs, which gave him a vision from the experiences of his predecessors; he turned these experiences into a practical approach. He said: “I admit that I have worked all my life according to the principle that settlement is better than the intransigent dispute that does not lead us to anywhere.”

Aga Khan was not a weak leader and Churchill did not lack of strength, but rather the wisdom that politics needs to be comprehensive

Hassan Al Mustafa

This “flexible mentality” of Aga Khan III allowed him to play important roles. In 1905, King Georges V sent him more than one message “urging and encouraging him to carry on his efforts to find a solution to the differences between Hindus and Muslims, and thus they would be able to focus on scientific, economic and social reforms.”

Sultan Mohammed Shah, had friendship ties for more than half a century with Sir Winston Churchill. The “political realism” marked both men. Sultan Aga Khan wrote: “every time I discussed political issues with Sir Winston, I got influenced over and over again with the practical realism, which is characterized in his point of views. He is not locked in his previous ideas, wishes or dreams as he controls all of them.”

In this regard, Churchill has once said to his friend that “half a loaf is better than nothing,” when Sir Churchill accepted the fact “that India shall remain within the Commonwealth as a republic that has its own terms.”

Aga Khan was not a weak leader and Churchill did not lack of strength, but rather the wisdom that politics needs to be comprehensive.

This article was first published in Al Riyadh.

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Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.