Throughout history, Ismaili Muslims have been led by a living, hereditary Imam-of-the-Time (Hazir Imam) descended from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) through his cousin and son-in-law, Hazrat Ali, and his daughter, Hazrat Bibi Fatima.
On 13 December 2011, Ismailis around the world will celebrate the 75th birthday of their present living Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan.
Born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1936, he succeeded his grandfather to become the 49th Ismaili Imam at the age of 20. During the five decades of his Imamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam has devoted himself to the spiritual and worldly progress of Ismailis everywhere.
The celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s birthday is an occasion for Ismailis to reflect on the unique spiritual bond that links each murid to Hazar Imam. It also affords the Jamat an opportunity to express its love, loyalty and devotion to the Imamat, which binds the Ismaili community together as one. [Excerpts from theismaili.org]