The Aga Khan Case (High Court of Bombay): Judgment on Authority in Ismaili Community

The Khoja Case, also known as the Aga Khan Case, is one of the rare cases profiling the Shia Imami Nizari Ismaili community (henceforth “Ismailis”). Decided in the High Court of Bombay in 1866 by the Honourable Sir Joseph Arnould, this case was brought by a series of Ismaili plaintiffs who argued that the Ismaili Community was a Sunni community, and therefore did not owe allegiance to the Aga Khan as its leader. The Court held that the Ismaili Community was in fact a Shi’a community, that the Aga Khan was the authoritative head of the community, and therefore, that he had the right to exercise his traditional modes of authority.

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