'UNDERSTANDING ISMAILISM', Section Two

'UNDERSTANDING 

ISMAILISM'

Section Two


Continued from Section One

Unique Legends

   History of ancient religions is full of legends, handed down by 
traditions from earlier times, mostly concerning deities and demigods. 
Some of the Prophets that came before the advent of Islam performed acts that can be described as supernatural or divine. The Quran acknowledges some of these miracles. However, it also tells us that the men of these times, in spite of witnessing those supernatural happenings, persecuted and in some instances executed their Prophets. The witnessing of the miracles alone was not sufficient for those generations of the skeptical human race to have had a change of heart. The question, therefore is, can the unverifiable legends that speak of divine acts performed centuries ago by Imams or Pirs make anyone a true Muslim?

   Prophet Mohammad (s.a.s) did not perform any major miracle of paramount consequence, during his life time. Islam was not spread on the back of miracles. There may be some reported sayings and legends of his miracles, but none has been attested to by the Quran. The foundation of Islam is the Signs of Allah, revealed in the Quran. These Signs are the ever enduring perpetual portents and miracles, for those who are knowledgeable in these Aayahs (Signs).

  At the other extreme of the skeptical are the people who are undoubting and ready to believe and trust in everything and everyone, in the name of God and religion. Their loyalty is to the Prophets, Imams or Pirs (such as Jesus, Ali or Shame) to whom the divine or supernatural acts are ascribed by legends, and not to Allah who, even if He may be regarded as the ultimate power is subordinated or held at parity with 
these individuals, in actual religious practice. In their beseechments, 
an expectancy of the response is not from Allah, who was in fact
glorified by these personalities, but from the venerated Prophets, Imams or Pirs.

   A true Muslim is one who expresses loyalty and submits himself to Allah alone; shirk, the practice of deifying or in any way treating as Allah's partner or associate any other being, is the meet heinous of sins. Even the Holy Prophet, whose deeds and practices are followed by Muslims as best practice - Sunnah, is regarded as a mere creation of Allah with no powers but those of a messenger which Allah bestowed on him. He can be praised, but never worshipped as a divine associate or partner of Allah. That is why no Muslim will permit himself to be called a "Mohammedan". The following extract from "The Religions of Man", a book by Huston Smith who is a (non-Muslim) Professor of Philosophy at Washington University, describes adequately how the Holy Prophet saw his role as God's messenger:

    "In an age charged with supernaturalism, when miracles were accepted as the stock-in-trade of the most ordinary saint, Muhammed refused to traffic with human weakness and credulity To miracle-hungry idolators seeking signs and portents he cut the issue clean: "God has not sent me to work wonders; He has sent me to preach to you. My Lord be praised! Am I more than a man sent as an apostle?" From first to last he resisted every impulse to glamorize his own person. "I never said that Allah's treasures are in my hand, that I knew the hidden things, or that  I was an angel ... I am only a preacher of God's words, the bringer of God's  message to mankind." If signs be sought, let them be not of Muhammed's greatness but of God's, and for these one need only open one's eyes. The heavenly bodies holding their swift silent course in the vault of heaven, the incredible order of the universe, the rain that falls to relieve the parched earth, palms bending with golden fruit, ships that glide across the seas laden with goodness for man - can these be the handwork of gods of stone? What fools to cry for signs when creation harbors nothing else! In an age of credulity, Muhammed taught respect for the world's incontrovertible order which was to awaken Muslim science before Christian. Only one miracle is claimed, that of the Koran itself That he by his own devices could have produced such truth - this was the one naturalistic hypothesis he could not accept."
                   'The Religions of Man' page 198 - Harper & Row 1985
    In the Ismaili Tariqah, Ginans by Pirs, Farmans by Imams, and history books and religious literature produced by Ismaili writers and Ismailia Associations, are all filled with numerous tales of miracles. Ismaili Imams have positively endorsed these accounts by citing them as evidence of the power of past Imams, and hence of their own.

   'Noorum-Mubin' is a voluminous book of the history of 50 Ismaili Pirs and 49 Ismaili Imams. It was written by A. J. Chunara and first published in 1936 by the Press Department of an Aga Khan religious institution called "Recreation Club", Bombay India (later the Ismailia Association), It has since been revised and reprinted many times. It contains numerous tales of supernatural feats performed by Ismaili Imams and Pirs. This book was recommended as "a must" for his Jamat by Aga Khan III, and the apocryphal Unique Legends it records are accordingly popularly accepted by Ismailis as their official history

   In April 1975, Age Khan IV, the 49th Imam of Ismailis, passed the 
under mentioned Resolutions at the Ismailia Association Conference in Paris which he chaired:

Resolution No. 3.3.1 "The Nooran Mubeen no longer to be made 
                                     available to the Jamat as a standard text 
                                      book of Ismaili history"

Resolution No. 3.3.2 "Notwithstanding the above, the Nooran Mubeen
                                   to remain as a document for research purposes."

   A history of Ismaili Imams and Pirs highly recommended by the 48th Imam in 1936 was thereby withdrawn from circulation by the 49th Imam, within 40 years of its publication.

    Another revision of the official position of Ismailis on critical literature concerns the Holy Quran itself, a book 1400 years old and ever in its original form. In 1899, the 48th Imam spoke of it as "1300 years old", "outdated" and "for people of Arabia only"; in October 1986, his successor declared over a television interview: "The only miracle which you have in Islam is the Quran". One must then wonder how matters as fundamental as the importance of the Quran could be the subject of such a radical change of opinion by the infallible and continuous Noor of Imamat!

  Going through the history of Ismaili Pirs I have found more legends ascribed to Pir Shamshuddi’n (popularly known as Pir Shams) than to any other Pir. Out of the dozen or so recorded, below are brief accounts of a few the detailed accounts of which are recorded by A. J. Chunara in "Noorum-Mubin" (Gujrati), and in part by Abualy in "A Brief History of Ismailism" under the chapters ‘Imam Shamshuddin Muhammad', ‘Imam Kassam Shah’ and ‘Pir Shamsuddin’, respectively.

Unique Legends of Pir Shams

1.   Pir Shams had come to the city of Multan, Punjab, Pakistan (formerly India). The king's only son had died recently The Pir was solicited by Sufis, Alims and others to revive his dead son. Pir Shams approached the dead body looked at the corpse and said "Kum be iznillah" ("Get up by the command of Allah"). The corpse remained stiff and motionless. Then the Pir said "Kum be izni" ("Get up by my command") and the king's son got up and was alive.

Note: Is the Unique Legend trying to propagate that the Pir's command had greater power than that of Allah? (Nauzbillah).

The Sufis, Alims and Maulvis of Multan who witnessed the miracle accused the Pir of breaking the law of Shariyat by commanding "Kum be izni". They pronounced that Pir Shams be skinned alive. Thereupon the Pir pulled the locks of his hair and along with it came the skin of his entire body.

2.   Pir Shams was very hungry. With difficulty he could obtain a piece of meat from a butcher. No one in the city of Multan would co-operate with the Pir to cook the meat for him. Pir Shams went out of the city sat down, looked at the sun (‘Shams’ in Arabic means sun) in the sky and recited a poem in Persian, inviting ‘Shams’ (sun) to come down to Pir Shams: "O Sun, O Sun, Do not speed, Do not speed ... ". Noorum-Mubin records that the sun came down. The entire population of Multan was in pain. Many of them came running to the Pir (who was outside the City) and begged forgiveness. The sun went back to its place in the sky after cooking the piece of meat.

Note: No comment is warranted. This is a space era. Everyone can imagine the consequences of the sun stopping in its motion and getting out of its orbit.

3.    In the words of author Abualy: "One day Pir Shams sailed in a small boat made of ordinary paper without the boat absorbing water. Thousands of amazed spectators followed the boat walking on both the banks of the river which narrowed upon entering the city There was a huge building on the right bank where Sheikh Zakaria was living. He saw the Pir through a narrow window of his house and shouted in a curse. Instantly the boat absorbed water and started rolling in rocking motions. The Pir understood his malice and replied, "Let there be horns on thy head", and there appeared instantly two large cow-like horns on Zakaria’s head preventing him from withdrawing his head from outside the window. The Pir corrected his boat and happily sailed away. The frightened Shaikh sent his son and prominent disciples with gifts begging the Pir's forgiveness. He was forgiven conditionally. He would have to keep away from any more mischief. Horns would disappear but as a mark of remembrance he would retain, and his generations would be born with, two small projections on their upper foreheads like those of a kid or a calf’.

Note: The same legend appears in an Ismaili Ginan. The name of the Shaikh mentioned in the Ginan is Bahuddin. The correct name of the person is Shaikh Baha’oddin Zakariya Multani, who died in 1276.

   It is very interesting to note what author Abualy has added after this legend of the Pir's miracles. He writes "Even today after nearly eight centuries, hundreds of the children of the Shaikh in Multan and the surrounding districts have these projections from birth?

Note: As a resident of Pakistan, for over a quarter century, none of the Ismailis or Muslims of Multan that I had the opportunity of talking to had heard of any clan, tribe, race or family having horn-like projections on their upper foreheads. The book of Abualy was published in 1985 and the words "Even today" indicate that hundreds of individuals with kid or calf like projections are living and can be seen in the district of Multan, Pakistan.

   In the following chapters, readers will be interested to learn that the so called "Pir" Shams was neither an Ismaili, nor a "Pir" of the Ismailis. He was not sent to India by a post-Alamut Imam as claimed by Ismaili sources because he arrived in Multan half a century before the destruction of Alamut by the invading Mongolian army of Halaku Khan in 1258 A.D.

Unique Legends of Hazrat Ali

  In a small town of Manjewdi, India, on the 29th day of December 1893, Aga Sultan Muhammad Shah, the 48th Imam of Ismailis (Aga Khan III) narrated before the congregation of his followers, an important historical event from the life of Hazrat Ali, the first Ismaili Imam. Reproduced below is the translation thereof:

    "One day Hazarat Amirul Momneen Mawla Murtaza Ali went to a bank of the river Furat, riding his horse", said the Aga Sultan Muhammad. "Ali reached a community of ’Ali Allah’. Members of the community believed Murtaza Ali to be Allah", continued the Aga Khan. "Ali called one member of the community and enquired: ‘Do you say Ali Allah?’. The member replied: ‘I have faith, you are Allah’, (nauzbillah). Thereupon, Ali beheaded him and brought him back to life and asked: ’Why do you call me Ali Allah?’. The member replied: 'You killed me and then brought me back to life, now whatever doubt I had has been thrown out. You are truly Ali Allah’. Murtaza Ali ordered that the person be cut into pieces and thrown from the mountain. The order of Ali was carried out. He was again brought back to life by Ali and asked: ‘Do you still call me Ali Allah?’. Thereupon the person very obediently replied:  ‘My faith has become stronger on the one who can cut a person into pieces and then bring him back to life". Continuing the narration, Aga Khan said to his Jamat: "The member was killed many times and in many styles and every time brought back to life and asked: ’Do you yet call me Ali Allah?’ and the person kept on saying: ’You are truly Allah. The one who kills and gives life be called Allah".
                   'Kalam e Imam e Mubin’ Farman No. 18
  Earlier, on the 8th day of September, 1885 Aga Khan had narrated the same miracle of Hazrat Ali in Bombay. In this Farman, he had mentioned the name of the person killed and brought back to life as "Nuseri". The number of times he was killed by Hazrat Ali was mentioned to be seventy. After the narration of the incident, Aga Khan added in his Farman:
    "Thereafter came a Commandment that this (Nuseri) is a True Momin, and his progenies will also be of such truthfulness. This Momin and his progeny will be exempt from questioning on the Day of Reckoning. He achieved that status because of his Iman (faith)". Later on, Aga Khan added "We, the Noor of Murtaza Ali, are present and are sitting in front of you, the Jamat".
            'Kalam e Imam e Mubin' Farman No. 2
   On page 124 of ’Ismaili Tariqah’, Al-Waiz Abualy writes (quoting a portion from Farman No. 2:
    "Ismailis believe that every Imam, generation after generation, possesses the same Noor which Ali possessed, therefore every Imam is Ali. It is the physical body which is changed, like a dress, but the Noor is perpetual."
Note: According to the above quotation, Ismailis believe ‘Ali = Aga Khan’. If an Ismaili’s faith was that of Nuseri or if he happens to be or claims to be a True Momin (true believer) like Nuseri, then he must admit without doubt "Aga Khan = Allah", (nauzbillah).

     In the town of Mundra, Cutchh, India, on the 21st day of November 1903, eighteen years after the above narration, Aga Khan III narrated another historical event from the life of Hazrat Ali depicting him as ‘Ali Allah'. This time Hazrat Ali replies:

    "You are a foreigner from Yemen and yet your faith in me (as Allah) is so complete. You are therefore with me. But, if you were to be with me physically day and night, and yet had no faith in me, you would be away from me". Thereafter Aga Khan added, commanding his Jamat: "All you members of the Jamat, make a firm commitment with your heart that you too are with me. We are with you".
        'Kalam e Imam e Mubin', Farman No. 80
Is Divinity a Yo-Yo?

   In the year 1946, Aga Khan III made a complete turn about. Having quoted "verbatim" - the conversation between Hazrat Ali and Nuseri - Aga Khan told his missionaries at a Mission Conference in Dar-es-salaam, Africa, that the Supernatural Acts of Hazrat Ali (bringing back to life) "should be considered and interpreted purely as allegorical." The Legends of  Ali, which were narrated in great detail in 1893 and subsequently recorded in the books of Farmans as historical events that actually took place on a bank of river Furat, were so transformed by his own words into allegorical myths!

    Allah says: "Say: Is there of your partners (whom ye ascribe unto Allah) one that leadeth to the Truth? Say: Allah leadeth to the Truth. Is He who leadeth to the Truth more deserving that He should be followed, or he who findeth not the way unless he (himself) be guided. What is the matter with ye? How judge ye? Most of them follow naught but conjecture. Assuredly conjecture can by no means take the place of truth. Verily Allah is well aware of all that they do".     Holy Quran 10/35-36
There is one fundamentally important fact which cannot be overlooked and that is:-

   Irrespective of the actuality of the supernatural deed of Hazrat Ali (whether it was a historical fact, myth, allegory or fiction), the unvarying, consistent message of these Farmans is the Imam’s commandment to his followers to have total faith in him as ‘Ali Allah': The question then is: Was he or was he not "Ali Allah"? If he was, then why is his successor the 49th Imam, denying the Divinity of the Imams? If he was not, then why did the old Aga Khan ask the Jamat to make a firm commitment with their hearts and have total faith in him as "Ali Allah?

  Is Divinity a toy like a yo-yo which can be spun out for half a century and then reeled in by a string, tied to the finger of an Imam? Ismailis often taunt other Muslims that they (the Muslims) have a 'Mute Quran’ which is rigid and cannot change itself with the times. WeIsmailis on the other hand, they say, have a ’Speaking Quran’ which changes with the times.

Let us examine the end results:

a) ‘Confession of Faith’ (Shahadah) of Muslims has remained unchanged for the last 1400 years. 
b) ‘Confession of Faith’ of Ismailis has changed twice during the last fifty years and yet the Arabic text of ‘Shahadah’ and the official translation do not coincide.

a)  The basic text of the Namaz (Salat of Muslims) has remained unchanged for the last 1400 years. 
b) The text of Dua (Salat of Ismailis) and its language has changed three times in the last fifty years and yet there are many self-contradictory paradoxical phrases in it.

a)  The verses of the Quran have not been edited or withdrawn from circulation during the last 1400 years.
b)  The Farmans of the 48th Imam were systemically edited and withdrawn from circulation, for various reasons. Many were edited for being contradictory or unfounded or the predictions had gone wrong during his lifetime or after. Today the Farmans of Aga Khan I, II and III, whether in manuscript, printed or in any form, are recalled by Resolution No. 6.2.4 of the Ismailia Association's Paris Conference, 1975.

According to the Quran, the characteristic portent of Allah's Farman is:

    "... There is no changing the words of Allah - that is the Supreme Triumph." Holy Quran 10/64
   Hundreds of letters, memorandums and appeals have been sent to Karim Aga Khan by Ismailis, directly to his residence in Aiglemont, France as well as through the Ismailia Councils the world over, seeking guidance on the subject of faith and traditions. Hardly anyone gets an answer or an acknowledgment from Aga Khan, the "Living Guide" and "Speaking Quran" of Ismailis. As for face to face discussion of contentious issues, an Ismaili cannot have that in this life - perhaps in the hereafter?

   The 49th Imam has declared through High Courts of London that his grandfather the 48th Imam, had never claimed Divinity. Did he then not know of the above quoted Farmans made by his grandfather? The books of Farmans are written in the Khojki and Gujrati languages which the 49th Imam cannot read, so an Ismaili might say "it is an honest mistake". If however he believes that, then he should ask himself "How would the 49th Imam know of Ismailis' 'Tasbihs’ and prayers for forgiveness? And how would he know who has paid his contribution of Dasond (Ismaili Zakat) in the Jamatkhanas?" No receipt is given for the contribution of Dasond, nor is a list made by the agent of the Imam who collects it and puts it in a bag without counting.

  I cannot conclude this chapter without asking: Did Hazrat Ali himself make a claim for being ‘Ali Allah' during his lifetime? The answer is found in a letter written by Hazrat All, long after having been declared Mawla by the Prophet. He wrote the letter before he proceeded to Basra, to fight the battle of Jummal. The letter was addressed to Kufiyites who were leaders of Ansars. His letter begins:

    "This letter is from the servant and creature of God, Ali ..."
The full text of the letter appears in "Nahjul Balagha" on page 427.

Allah says:

    "He knoweth what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot intercede except for him whom He accepteth, and they stand in awe and reverence of His (glory). And one of them who should say: 'Lo! I am a God beside Him’, that one We should repay with hell. Thus We repay wrongdoers." 
                        Holy Quran 21/28-29
   As for the sudden lurch and confusion created in the hearts and minds of Ismailis by the duality of Farmans on the subjects of the status of the Quran and the Divinity of the Imam, Allah says:
    "Who is more unjust than one who invents a lie against Allah or rejects His Signs? For such, their portion appointed must reach them from the Book (of Decrees); Until, when Our messengers (of death) arrive and take their souls, they say: ’Where (now) is that to which ye used to invoke besides Allah?’ They will reply, ‘They have left us in the lurch: And they will bear witness against themselves, that they had rejected Allah."Holy Quran 7/37
Unique Statesmanship

Am I not better than a cow?

  A high ranking Jamati leader from West Bengal who was on intimate terms with Aga Khan III remarked that many members of the Jamat (Community) regarded him as God, and asked if he was. It is reported that Aga Khan quickly and calmly replied that in India millions of people worship cows as their God. Was he not better than a cow? Many years later the same Jamati leader was in Switzerland and again raised the subject of Divinity and forgiving of sins.

   This time the respondent was the grandson of Aga Khan III. Like his predecessor, he came up with a diplomatic counter question: ‘What do you believe me to be?’ The man from Calcutta was not an orthodox Ismaili He used to recite Namaz, five times a day. He knew Allah alone can forgive sins. He informed Karim Aga Khan, what he considered him to be. Thereupon the Aga Khan replied: ‘That's good enough for me.’ The shrewd business magnate knew he was talking to a seasoned statesman, though much younger in age than him.

  In a not very distant past, a Chief Mukhi (official representative of the Aga Khan) got a Mulaqat (audience) with Karim Aga Khan, after much influencing and persuasions. His problem was created by missionaries making sermons in his jurisdictions about Aga Khan’s ‘Total Divinity’. He wanted to know from his Hazar Imam (living guide) what his response should be as a representative of the Imam, especially when confronted by students who had studied Islam or read the Quran. He got back a diplomatic counter question: ’Who are those missionaries?’

    Karim Aga Khan was on his tour of Uganda, East Africa. He happened to visit an Aga Khan School in Kampala. One of the students of the Aga Khan School got up and asked the visitor a point-blank question; "Are you God?" Aga Khan turned around and asked the Educational Administrator for the Aga Khan Schools, who was also an Ismaili, to answer that question. Obviously any answer given by the Administrator would only qualify as his own personal belief and not a response from Aga Khan. On his way back, he inquired who is teaching students that he is God?

"The only miracle in Islam is the Quran"

   This time Aga Khan was on television. It is reported that Aga Khan had refused offers from leading American Television Corporations for an interview. Katherine Smalley a producer for C.B.C., Toronto and famous interviewer Roy Bonnisteel were lucky enough to have Aga Khan on their popular program ‘Man Alive’. After a series of questions, Roy touched the sensitive nerve of His Highness. He asked, "Is this a kind of Divine authority?" Every Ismaili viewer on that night of October 8, 1986 was tense. The question was straight forward and direct. The viewers were expecting a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Instead, Aga Khan’s response was, not to confuse the concept of ’Religious Authority’ with Divinity. He said: ‘The Prophet himself never claimed any miracle of any sort. The only miracle which you have in Islam is the Quran".

Conferences and Conclusions

  I was sitting in a conference room of a hotel on the outskirts of Paris. I was not sure what would be the reaction from the Chair on that day The night before, in the shivering cold of October, I had prepared my paper for the next day's presentation. The moment came and Aga Khan asked me to read my paper, which was titled; "God is out of fashion in the West - says Pope". The stress point of the paper was, if that be the case then what should be the approach of our young and old missionaries towards the coming generations since people of the third world eventually do catch up with the West. During the discussions, a President of the Ismailia Association brought up the subject of sermons delivered on ‘Divinity’. He addressed the Chair drawing attention to an incident that had taken place a short time ago, which was as follows: A Senior Al-Waiz (missionary) had come on a visit to Pakistan. He is reputed for his sermons on "Ali sahi (truly) Allah", that is to say "Aga Khan is truly Allah". The visiting missionary had scheduled his program for lectures and sermons without going through the official channel The President of the Ismailia Association who was himself a missionary, instructed the Jamati Officers to cancel the program. The Senior missionary knew that in Pakistan the Ismailia Association would not allow him to preach what he propagated outside of Pakistan. He therefore decided to by-pass the Association and change the venue of his lectures. The sermons were now to be delivered outside of a Jamatkhana in Karachi

  The said Jamatkhana is located within a huge housing complex for Ismailis. The Housing Society is owned by a Charitable Trust. Mukhis who were directly responsible to the Association had no jurisdiction outside of their Jamatkhanas. This could create even greater problems than before because the entrance to the complex was not restricted to the Ismailis only as Jamatkhana entrances.

  The Federal Council for Pakistan appointed me as mediator, being a President of the Regional Council for Karachi and Baluchistan. Finally permission was granted to the visiting missionary for delivering sermons in ail the Jamatkhanas of Karachi. The visitor made good of the opportunity granted and left Pakistan, leaving behind a legacy of questions and problems for the local missionaries and the Ismailia Association

   In Pakistan, "Islamiyat" (relating to Islam) is a compulsory subject, in the secular schools at the elementary and secondary levels. Every student living in Pakistan is familiar with the fundamental principles of Islam, Islamic history and the basic Message of the Quran. One can well imagine the plight of the President of the Association who addressed the Chair at the Conference in Paris, following the sermons by the visiting missionary The object of my paper that day and that of the President's remark were to have a definitive guideline from the Chair (Karim Aga Khan) about missionaries’ approach to the subject of "Ali Allah" and 'Divinity'.

  In the past, Aga Khan was inquiring as to "Who are these missionaries?" Now a missionary was identified and Aga Khan was also informed, by his own appointee (the President) as to the dominating power of that missionary. All delegates attending the conference were expecting a strong response and a positive reaction from the Chair. The chair-person calmly suggested that the issue be left with him. Karim Aga Khan did not advise the delegates what to do in the future, if the Senior missionary or any other preacher came to Pakistan and wanted to preach "All sahi Allah".

   Many years later, I met the Senior Al-Waiz in Canada. He laughed and said; ’I know what happened on that day at the Conference in Paris’. His laughs told me the untold story It was not difficult to read between the lines or rather, between the lips.

  Today 15 years have passed since that Conference in 1973. The Senior missionary and his colleagues are harping the same old tune. He goes a step further by propagating "Sahi Allah" (true God), for not only Karim Aga Khan, but also for Hazrat Ali, Prophet Muhammad, Hazrat Bibi Fatima, Hazrat Hasan and Hazrat Hussain who are know as "Pujtan Pak" (five holy bodies). (nauzbillah)

Memorandums and Mulaqats

In 1985, I prepared a "Memorandum" for submission to Aga Khan IV. The main issue of the memorandum was about ’Resolutions’ that were passed at a top level conference and then swept under the rug by a group of Canadian leaders and missionaries. The subjects for the memorandum and the object of submitting it were already discussed at a gathering attended by a few leaders from the Council, the Associations and the Jamat. A high-ranking leader of the Canadian Jamat undertook to deliver the memorandum to Aga Khan personally Since the issues were dividing the leaders, scholars, missionaries and members of the Jamat, an audience was requested with Aga Khan during his visit of Vancouver

  Shortly after, Karim Aga Khan came to Vancouver and I was invited to a private gathering in West Vancouver to have a Mulaqat (audience) with Karim Aga Khan and discuss the topics of the memorandum submitted earlier. The President who had been very co-operative and friendly introduced me to Aga Khan. I shook his hand and said: "Your Highness, I would like to have a Mulaqat with you". He petted my shoulder with his left hand and said: "Your family has done a great service in India" and extended his right hand to the person next in the line for introduction. Aiglemont (Aga Khan’s office in France), has a big file of my family and me.

These days, it is hard to know what is in fashion and what is out of fashion in the Ismaili Tariqah.

    The day He will gather them together as well as those whom they worship besides Allah. He will ask: "Was it you who led these My servants astray or did they stray from the Path themselves?
                          Holy Quran 25/17
Unique Ginans

   Ginans - (Devotional Songs in Indian languages) are the basis and foundation of the Ismaili Tariqah. forefathers of the present day Khoja Ismailis were converted by Pirs from Hinduism with the Ginanic preaching. Divine Revelations, revealed unto mankind through Prophet Muhammad by Allah, are the basis and foundation of Islam. Disputing the preaching of the Ginans by an Ismaili Momin would be similar in significance to the contradiction of the teachings of the Quran by a believing Muslim. Any study of the Ismaili Tariqah, without the study of the origins of Ginans and their influence upon Ismailis, would be an incomplete study

  "Pir" is a Persian word. It means Murshid, Guru, an authorized teacher. ‘lb an Ismaili, the teachings of a Pir are to be obeyed, word for word. Author Abualy has quoted a Farman (Command) of an Imam on Page 134 of ‘Ismaili Tariqah’ to show that the obedience to Pir is obligatory upon every Ismaili. The quoted Farman reads:

    "The Pir is the person to whom the Imam of the time has granted his position which makes him the highest amongst his creation (ashraf-i-makhluqat) and whenever the Imam has chosen the Pir and appointed him, he must convey to others the knowledge in detail. You must attain perfection in the knowledge of the Imam through him. Therefore it is obligatory upon you to follow the Pir, never flinching from his obedience. Be bound by what the Pir tells you, acting as he says and when you obey the Pir, the Pir in the Hereafter will pray to God for your protection".
More Ginans Composed by non-Pirs than
Pirs

   Ismailis recite Ginans everyday with love and devotion in their Jamatkhanas, but most Ismailis have not studied the History and origin of these Ginans. They believe that each and every Ginan that is recited in their Jamatkhanas and/or published by the Ismailia Association is composed by an authorized Pir and must be obeyed. However that is not so. In fact, there are more Ginans composed by non-Pirs than there are by Pirs. Author Abualy writes on pages 134 and 135 of his book ’Ismaili Tariqah".

    "The children of our Holy Pirs were also respectfully called Pirs. They were not the Appointed Pirs as Hujjatul Imam but they were dais, missionaries. They were Sayyids. ... There is nothing wrong to call these children of our Holy Pirs as Pirs .... Our Pirs and their children composed the Ginans in various Indian languages. The present collection of our Ginanic literature is the work of our ten Appointed Pirs and more than twenty of their children. Bhagat Kara Ruda said that more than forty Sayyids among the children of our Holy Pirs, particularly the children of Pir Sadruddin and Pir Hasan Kabirdin, had composed thousands of Ginans, most of which were lost with time".
The amazing statement in the fourth sentence surely leads to these questions:

1. Is there anything wrong then in addressing children of our Holy Imams, also respectfully, as Imams?

2. Admitted, they are not Appointed Imams like our Hazar Imam. But, should not the spoken words of these children of Imams be considered as Farmans and obeyed, word for word, like the Ginans created by the children of our Appointed Pirs?

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