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Portal:Islam/Selected biography

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Selected biographies list

Portal:Islam/Selected biography/1

Akhtar Hameed Khan was born in Agra, India

Akhtar Hameed Khan (1914–1999) was a development activist and social scientist credited for pioneering microcredit and microfinance initiatives, farmers' cooperatives, and rural training programmes in the developing world. He promoted participatory rural development in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other developing countries, and widely advocated community participation in development. His particular contribution was the establishment of a comprehensive project for rural development, the Comilla Model (1959). It earned him the Magsaysay Award from the Philippines and an honorary Doctorate of Law from Michigan State University. In the 1980s he started a bottom up community development initiative of Orangi Pilot Project, based in the outskirts of Karachi, which became a model of participatory development initiatives. He also directed many programmes, from microcredit to self-finance and from housing provision to family planning, for rural communities and urban slums. It earned him international recognition and high honours in Pakistan. Khan was fluent in at least seven languages and dialects. Apart from many scholarly books and articles, he also published a collection of poems and travelogues in Urdu.

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Muhammad Iqbal

Muhammad Iqbal was an Indian Muslim poet, philosopher and politician, whose poetry in Persian and Urdu is regarded as among the greatest in modern times. Also famous for his work on religious and political philosophy in Islam, he is credited with first proposing the idea of an independent state for Indian Muslims, which would inspire the creation of Pakistan. He is best known for his poetic works, which include the Tarana-e-Hind, Asrar-e-Khudi, Rumuz-i-Bekhudi, and the Bang-i-Dara. He is officially recognised as the "national poet" in Pakistan. The anniversary of his birth on November 9 is a holiday in Pakistan. Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilisation across the world, but specifically in India; a series of famous lectures he delivered to this effect were published as The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. One of the most prominent leaders of the All India Muslim League, Iqbal would encourage the creation of a "state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims" in his 1930 presidential address.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/3

Suleiman I attributed to Titian

Suleiman the Magnificent was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, ruling from 1520 to 1566. Suleiman became the pre-eminent monarch of 16th century Europe, presiding over the apogee of the Ottoman Empire's military, political and economic power. Suleiman personally led Ottoman armies to conquer the Christian strongholds of Belgrade, Rhodes, and most of Hungary before his conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He annexed most of the Middle East in his conflict with the Persians and large swathes of North Africa as far west as Algeria. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. At the helm of an expanding empire, Suleiman personally instituted legislative changes relating to society, education, taxation and criminal law. His canonical law fixed the form of the empire for centuries after his death. Not only was Suleiman a distinguished poet and goldsmith in his own right; he also became a great patron of culture, overseeing the golden age of the Ottoman Empire's artistic, literary and architectural development. In a break with Ottoman tradition, Suleiman married a harem girl who became Hurrem Sultan, whose intrigues in the court and power over the Sultan have become as famous as Suleiman himself. Their son, Selim II, succeeded Suleiman following his death in 1566 after 46 years of rule.

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Syed Ahmed Khan

Syed Ahmed Khan was an Indian educationalist and politician who pioneered modern education for the Muslim community in India by founding the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University. His work gave rise to a new generation of Muslim intellectuals and politicians who composed the Aligarh movement to secure the political future of Muslims in India. One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of the Indian independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Raj. He denounced nationalist organisations such as the Indian National Congress, instead forming organisations to promote Muslim unity and pro-British attitudes and activities. Sir Syed promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Indian Muslims and mentored a rising generation of Muslim politicians and intellectuals. Although hailed as a great Muslim leader and social reformer, Sir Syed remains the subject of controversy for his views on Hindu-Muslim issues.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/5
Abū Yūsuf Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī (c. 801–873 CE), also known to the West by the Latinized version of his name Alkindus, was an Arab polymath: an Islamic philosopher, scientist, astrologer, astronomer, cosmologist, chemist, logician, mathematician, musician, physician, physicist, psychologist, and meteorologist. Al-Kindi was the first of the Muslim Peripatetic philosophers, and is known for his efforts to introduce Greek and Hellenistic philosophy to the Arab world, and as a pioneer in chemistry, cryptography, medicine, music theory, physics, psychology, and the philosophy of science. Al-Kindi was a descendant of the Kinda tribe. He was born and educated in Kufa, before pursuing further studies in Baghdad. Al-Kindi became a prominent figure in the House of Wisdom, and a number of Abbasid Caliphs appointed him to oversee the translation of Greek scientific and philosophical texts into the Arabic language. This contact with "the philosophy of the ancients" (as Greek and Hellenistic philosophy was often referred to by Muslim scholars) had a profound effect on his intellectual development, and led him to write original treatises on subjects ranging from Islamic ethics and metaphysics to Islamic mathematics and pharmacology.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/6
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (965 in Basra - c. 1039 in Cairo), was a Persian polymath. He made significant contributions to the principles of optics, as well as to anatomy, astronomy, engineering, mathematics, medicine, ophthalmology, philosophy, physics, psychology, visual perception, and to science in general with his introduction of the scientific method. He is sometimes called al-Basri (Arabic: البصري), after his birthplace in the city of Basra. He was also nicknamed Ptolemaeus Secundus ("Ptolemy the Second") or simply "The Physicist" in medieval Europe. Born circa 965, in Basra, part of present-day Iraq and part of Buyid Persia at that time, he lived mainly in Cairo, Egypt, dying there at age 76. Over-confident about practical application of his mathematical knowledge, he assumed that he could regulate the floods of the Nile. After being ordered by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the sixth ruler of the Fatimid caliphate, to carry out this operation, he quickly perceived the impossibility of what he was attempting to do, and retired from engineering. Fearing for his life, he feigned madness and was placed under house arrest, during and after which he devoted himself to his scientific work until his death.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/7

Cat Stevens lived on Shaftesbury Avenue in London, England

Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou on 21 July 1948), best known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British musician of Greek Cypriot and Swedish ancestry. He is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist and prominent convert to Islam. As Cat Stevens, he sold over 60 million albums around the world since the late 1960s. His albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat were both certified as Triple Platinum by the RIAA in the United States; his album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release alone, and was Billboard‍ '​s number-one LP for three consecutive weeks. His songwriting has also earned him two ASCAP songwriting awards in consecutive years, for "The First Cut Is the Deepest," which has been a hit single for four different artists, and has been instrumental for others in establishing their musical careers. Stevens converted to Islam at the height of his fame in December, 1977. The following year, he adopted his Muslim name Yusuf Islam, auctioned all his guitars away for charity in 1979, and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. He has been given several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including 2003's World Award, the 2004 Man for Peace Award and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace. In 2006, he returned to pop music, with his first album of new pop songs in 28 years, entitled An Other Cup.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/8

Sacrifice of Isaac

According to the Hebrew Bible, Isaac is the son of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau. His story is told in the Book of Genesis. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. (Genesis 21:1-5) Isaac was the longest-lived of the patriarchs, and the only biblical patriarch whose name was not changed. Isaac was the only patriarch who did not leave Canaan, although he once tried to leave and God told him not to do so. Compared to other patriarchs in the Bible, his story is less colorful, relating few incidents of his life.The New Testament contains few references to Isaac. The Christian church views Abraham's willingness to follow God's command to sacrifice Isaac as an example of faith and obedience. Muslims honour Isaac as a prophet of Islam. A few of the children of Isaac appear in the Qur'an. The Qur'an views Isaac as a righteous man, servant of God and the father of Israelites. The Qur'an states that Isaac and his progeny are blessed as long as they uphold their covenant with God. Some early Muslims believed that Isaac was the son who was supposed to be sacrificed by Abraham. This view however ceased to find support among Muslim scholars in later centuries.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/9

Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, by Karel Dujardin

Ishmael is a figure in the Torah, Bible, and Qur'an. Jewish, Christian and Muslim believers regard Ishmael as Abraham's eldest son, born of his wife Sarah's hand maiden Hagar. Though born of Hagar, according to Mesopotamian law, Ishmael was credited as Sarah's son. According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137. Both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of northern Arab people. Judaism has generally viewed Ishmael as wicked though repentant. The Hebrew scriptures maintain that Isaac (the father of the Jewish people) rather than Ishmael was the true heir of Abraham. The New Testament contains few references to Ishmael. In Christian biblical interpretation, Ishmael is used to symbolize the older—now rejected—Judaic tradition; Isaac symbolizes the new tradition of Christianity. Islamic tradition, however, has a very positive view of Ishmael, giving him a larger and more significant role. The Qur'an views him as an Islamic prophet.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/10

Site traditionally described as the tomb of Ezra at Al Uzayr near Basra

Ezra is a biblical priest who is usually believed by Muslim commentators to be the figure mentioned in the Qur'anic verse 9:30 and worshiped by Jews as "the son of God". Although not explicitly mentioned in Quran among the prophets, Ezra is considered as one of the prophets by some Muslim scholars, based on Islamic traditions. Ezra lived between the times of King Solomon and the time of Zachariah, father of John the Baptist. On the other hand, Muslim scholars such as Mutahhar al-Maqdisi and Djuwayni and notably Ibn Hazm and al-Samaw'al accused Ezra (or one of his disciples) of falsification of the Scriptures. The claim that of the Quran, that the Jews believed Ezra was the son of God, has never collaborated with any evidence. In fact, the Book of Ezra, which dates more than thousand years before the Quran explicitly says Ezra is the son of Seraiah. Many scholars believe Muhammad made this assertion so as to claim clean monotheism for the Muslims alone, in his day. Because of lack of evidence of any Jewish community believing Uzair (Ezra) was the son of God, this verse has caused major controversy in Islam.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/11

Malcolm X in March 1964

Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little; 1925 – 1965), also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was an African American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist. He has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. Malcolm X was born in Omaha, Nebraska. By the time he was 13, his father had died and his mother had been committed to a mental hospital. After living in a series of foster homes, Malcolm X became involved in the criminal underworld in Boston and New York. In 1945, Malcolm X was sentenced to eight to ten years in prison. While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam. After his parole in 1952, he became one of the Nation's leaders and chief spokesmen. For nearly a dozen years, he was the public face of the Nation of Islam. Tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, head of the Nation of Islam, led to his departure from the organization in March 1964. After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X made the pilgrimage, the Hajj, to Mecca and became a Sunni Muslim. He traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East. He founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization, and the secular, black nationalist Organization of Afro-American Unity. Less than a year after he left the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech in New York.

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/12

The name Muhammad written in Classic Calligraphy

Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh ; also spelled Mohammed or Muhammed) (ca. 570 Mecca – June 8, 632 Medina), is the central human figure of the religion of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as a messenger and prophet of God (Arabic: الله Allāh), the last and the greatest law-bearer in a series of prophets of Islam. Muslims consider him the restorer of the uncorrupted original monotheistic faith (islām) of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus and other prophets of Islam. He was also active as a diplomat, merchant, philosopher, orator, legislator, reformer, military general, and, according to Muslim belief, an agent of divine action. Born in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, he was orphaned at a young age and brought up under the care of his uncle. He later worked mostly as a merchant, as well as a shepherd, and was first married by age 25. Discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic beliefs it was here, at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (lit. islām) is the only way (dīn) acceptable to God, and that he himself was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as other Islamic prophets.

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Siddiqui was the first scientist to bring the medicinal constituents of the Neem tree to the attention of natural products chemists.

Prof Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui (Urdu: سلیم الزّماں صدّیقی‎, Salīmu l-zamāⁿ Ṣiddīqī, pronounced [səliːmʊ z-zəmɑ̃ː sɪd̪d̪iːqi]; 19 October 1897 – 14 April 1994) was a leading Pakistani scientist in natural products chemistry. He is credited for pioneering the isolation of unique chemical compounds from the Neem (Azadirachta indica), Rauwolfia, and various other flora. As the founder director of H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry, he revolutionised the research on pharmacology of various domestic plants found in South Asia to extract novel chemical substances of medicinal importance. In addition to his scientific talents, Siddiqui was also a painter, a poet, and a great connoisseur of music. His paintings were exhibited in Germany, India, and Pakistan.

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Sai Baba of Shirdi

Sai Baba of Shirdi (unknown circa 1835 - October 15, 1918), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was an Indian guru, yogi and fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim followers as a saint. Some of his Hindu devotees believe that he was an incarnation of Shiva or Dattatreya, and he was regarded as a satguru and an incarnation of Kabir. The name 'Sai Baba' is a combination of Persian and Indian origin; Sāī (Sa'ih) is the Persian term for "holy one" or "saint", usually attributed to Islamic ascetics, whereas Bābā is a word meaning "father" used in Indian languages. The appellative thus refers to Sai Baba as being a "holy father" or "saintly father". His parentage, birth details, and life before the age of sixteen are obscure, which has led to a variety of speculations and theories attempting to explain Sai Baba's origins. In his life and teachings he tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam: Sai Baba lived in a mosque, was buried in a Hindu temple, practised Hindu and Muslim rituals, and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. One of his well known epigrams says of God: "Sabka Malik Ek" ("One God governs all").

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Portal:Islam/Selected biography/15

Yasser Arafat in 1999

Yasser Arafat was a Palestinian militant and politician. As Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, Arafat continuously fought against Israeli forces in the name of Palestinian self-determination. Arafat was constantly surrounded by controversy, as in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Fatah faced off with Jordan in a civil war. Forced out of Jordan and into Lebanon, Arafat and Fatah were the targets of Israel's 1978 and 1982 invasions of that country. Arafat was said to be a key planner of the Black September organization's murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics. The majority of the Palestinian people – regardless of political ideology or faction – viewed him as a heroic freedom fighter and martyr who symbolized the national aspirations of his people. However, many Israelis have described him as an unrepentant terrorist. In 1994, Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for the negotiations in the Oslo Accords. In late 2004, after effectively being confined within his Ramallah compound for over two years by the Israeli Defense Forces, Arafat became ill and fell into a coma, and later died.

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Ziaur Rahman was the 6th President of Bangladesh

Ziaur Rahman was the 6th President of Bangladesh and founder of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. While an officer in the Pakistan Army, Zia's unit captured the Kalurghat radio station at the onset of the Bangladesh Liberation War and declared the independence of Bangladesh. Recognised as a war hero, he would be honoured with the Bir Uttom in 1972. A high-ranking officer in the Bangladesh Army, Zia was appointed chief of army staff following the Assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. Although briefly overthrown in a coup d'etat, Zia returned to power in a counter-coup organised by Colonel Abu Taher. Declaring himself president in 1977, Zia won a referendum held in 1978. Founding the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Zia won widespread popular support for stabilising the nation and leading it in a new direction. A right-wing politician, Zia established free-market policies in a 19-point programme of industrialisation and development. He adopted policies bringing the government increasingly under Islam, which he included in the national constitution. Zia controversially pardoned the assassins of Sheikh Mujib by signing the Indemnity Act and rehabilitated individuals who had supported the Pakistan Army. A popular yet controversial leader, Zia was assassinated in 1981 in an abortive military coup.

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The Pentagon, minutes after American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into it

Khalid al-Mihdhar (May 16, 1975 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which was flown into the Pentagon as part of a coordinated suicide attack on September 11, 2001. Mihdhar was born in Saudi Arabia and fought in the Bosnian War during the 1990s. In early 1999, he traveled to Afghanistan where, as an experienced and respected jihadist, he was selected by Osama bin Laden to participate in the 9/11 attacks plot. Mihdhar arrived in California with fellow hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi in January 2000, after traveling to Malaysia for the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit. Upon arriving in San Diego, California, Mihdhar and Hazmi were to train as pilots, but spoke English poorly and did not do well with flight lessons. In June 2000, Mihdhar left the United States for Yemen, leaving Hazmi behind in San Diego. Mihdhar spent some time in Afghanistan in early 2001 and returned to the United States in early July 2001. He stayed in New Jersey in July and August 2001, before arriving in the Washington, D.C. area at the beginning of September 2001. On the morning of September 11, Mihdhar boarded American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked approximately a half-hour after take off. The plane was deliberately crashed into the Pentagon, killing all 64 people aboard the flight, along with 125 on the ground. In the aftermath, intelligence files on Mihdhar indicated to investigators that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks.

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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali political leader in East Pakistan and the founding leader of Bangladesh. Heading the Awami League, he served as the first President and later Prime Minister of Bangladesh. An advocate of socialism, Mujib became popular for his leadership against the ethnic and institutional discrimination of Bengalis. At the heightening of sectional tensions, Mujib outlined a 6-point autonomy plan which was seen as separatism in West Pakistan. After talks broke down with President Yahya Khan and West Pakistani politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mujib was arrested and a guerrilla war erupted between government forces and Bengali nationalists along with Indian intervention in 1971 which would lead to the establishment of Bangladesh, and after his release Mujib would assume office as provisional president, and later prime minister. Even as a constitution was adopted, proclaiming socialism and a secular democracy, Mujib struggled to address the challenges of intense poverty and unemployment. Amidst rising political turmoil, he banned other political parties and declared himself president in 1975. Mujib was assassinated with his family by a group of army officers.

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Wail al-Shehri (July 31, 1973 – September 11, 2001) was an al-Qaeda associate and hijacker on American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center as part of the September 11 attacks. Shehri was an elementary school teacher from Khamis Mushait in the Asir region of Saudi Arabia. In early 2000 he traveled to Medina to seek treatment for mental issues. He and his younger brother Waleed traveled to Afghanistan in March 2000 and joined an Al-Qaeda training camp. The brothers were chosen, along with others from the same region of Saudi Arabia, to participate in the September 11 attacks. Once selected, Shehri returned to Saudi Arabia in October 2000 to obtain a clean passport, then returned to Afghanistan. In March 2001, he recorded his last will and testament on video. Shehri arrived in the United States in early June 2001, staying in budget motels in the Boynton Beach area of south Florida. On September 5, 2001, Shehri traveled to Boston and checked into a motel with his brother. Six days later, Shehri arrived early in the morning at Boston's Logan International Airport and boarded American Airlines Flight 11. Fifteen minutes after take off, the flight was hijacked and deliberately crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

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An aerospace engineering student, Ziad Samir Jarrah (May 11, 1975 – September 11, 2001), was the hijacker who acted as pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, part of the September 11 attacks. He is believed to have taken over as the pilot of the aircraft and made an unsuccessful attempt to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol. There are many variations on his name, including Zaid Samir Al-Jarrah, Zaid Jarrahi, Ziad Jarrah Jarrat, and Ziyad Samir Jarrah. After a wealthy and secular upbringing, Jarrah became involved in the planning for the September 11 attacks in vocational university. Unique among the hijackers, he had a Turkish girlfriend (born in Germany), living and studying in Bochum, Germany) and was close to his family. There have been some questions as to whether or not Jarrah was actually on Flight 93 and whether he was a hijacker; the 9/11 Commission concluded that his was not a case of mistaken identity and that he piloted the plane. In October 2006, an al-Qaeda video was released showing Jarrah and Mohammed Atta recording their wills in January 2000 in Osama Bin Laden’s Tarnak Farms base near Kandahar.

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Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, KBE (Persian: صدرالّدين آغا خان‎, Ṣadr ad-Dīn Āghā Khān) (17 January 1933 – 12 May 2003) served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1966 to 1978, during which he reoriented the agency's focus beyond Europe and prepared it for an explosion of complex refugee issues. He was also a proponent of greater collaboration between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies. The Prince's interest in ecological issues led him to establish the Bellerive Foundation in the late 1970s, and he was a knowledgeable and respected collector of Islamic art. Born in Paris, France, he was the son of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan and Princess Andrée Aga Khan. He married twice, but had no children of his own. Prince Sadruddin died of cancer at the age of 70, and was buried in Switzerland.

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