In the early 1970s, the fundamental issue of the "Divinity" of Karim Aga Khan became a cause of major animosity between the leaders of the Ismailia community from the Islamic States and the non Islamic States. When the Aga Khan's highest ranking international leader - the late Sir Eboo Pirbhai of Kenya, failed to resolve the issue from his headquarters in Nairobi, he referred the matter to Karim Aga Khan himself. Finally, in 1975, an International Conference of the heads of Ismailia Associations (the religious bodies created to propagate the Ismaili faith), and the renowned Ismaili scholars from all over the world was held in Paris under the chairmanship of the 49th Imam of the Agakhani Ismailis.

   The final report of this Paris Conference was printed in May 5, 1975 from Nairobi, Kenya. It was published by the  co-ordinator for the Ismailia Association Central Co-ordination Office, Mr. Eqbal Rupani. Reproduced below is the officially defined "Concept of Imamah", as it appears on page six of the said Paris Conference Report: 

"The Imam to be explained as 'mazhar' of God, and the relationship between God and the Imam to be related to varying levels of inspiration and communication from God to man."
    The objective of the International Conference was to render precise and explicit definition of the term "Imamah" to the followers, endorsed by the Imam himself. The late 48th Imam had candidly claimed "Divinity" within several of his Farmans (e.g., "Heaven and Hell (to give) is in my hand" of February 20, 1910, Rajkot, India and published in a book entitled; Khangi Farman, page 72; Mawla Ali repeatedly beheading/killing/cutting into pieces and then bringing back to life, an "Ali Allahi" named Nusheri, on the bank of Furat river, in the Farman book entitled; Kalam e Imam e Mubin, Farmans Nos. 2, 18 and 80). 

    The media were publicizing the Imam as the Living God. Ismaili missionaries were confusing the issue. Some were preaching; YES, he is the Living God. Others were declaring; 
No, he is not. The community leaders wanted an explicit clear cut definition of the term "Imamah", in black and white. What they got out of this International Conference was more confusion. 

    With the insertion of the words; "varying levels of inspiration and communication from God to man." inthe Resolution, the prevailing disorientation of maintaining diverse beliefs and owning dissimilar definitions for the "Imamah", was in effect endorsed. The ambiguity of the enigmatic phrase "Mazhar of God" created further chaos, as we shall discover in the following paragraph. 


  'Mazhar' happens to be an Arabic word which translates; "copy" or "manifest". Hence the phrase "Mazhar of God" would literally mean, a "Copy of God" or a "Manifestation of God." The concept, although regarded as gravely heretic by other Muslims, may be readily acceptable by the Khojah Agakhani Ismailis, since their early ancestors had their roots in Hinduism. In the Hindu philosophy, the repeated appearances upon this earth, in the multifarious bodily forms, as the Incarnations or Manifestations of the heavenly gods (e.g., Lord Vishnu as Rama, Krishna, etc. etc.,), is very common. These "Manifestations of gods " are known as "Avtars of gods".

     There are ancient Ginans (devotional songs recited in the Ismaili Jamatkhanas) that do propagate and profess that Hadhrat Ali (a.s.), the 1st Imam, was the last and final Tenth Manifestation or Tenth Incarnation (Avatar) of Lord Vishnu. And simultaneously, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) was the Final Incarnation of Lord Bramah. 

     In the book of Ginans entitled "Motto Das Avatar" (meaning, "Big Ten Incarnations"), on page 57 it reads; 
     "Gur Brahmah te sahi Nabi Mahamad dharawiyya naam"
meaning; "Lord Brahmah has truly taken the name of Nabi Muhammad."

   The Ginan continues and speaks of "Pir Shams as the recent Gur Brahmah". Ismailis are mislead into believing that the famous Muslim Awliyya of India, Shah Shams-ud-Din of Multan, Punjab (d.1276), was an Ismaili Pi'r sent by an Imam to cnovert Khojahs into Ismailis. The historical facts are this Muslim never ever saw any Ismaili Imam or even visited the country where the Imam lived. He was a Sunni Muslim and his converts were and are 
Sunni Muslims. He never ever visited Gujrat, Kutchh, Kathiaward or Sindh where the Khojahs used to live. For more information please click ISMAILI HISTORY  In another Ismaili Ginan entitled "Naklanki Geeta", on page 65 it recites that Pir Sadruddin (a student of Shah Shams-ud-Din) is the present Avatar of prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.).

   Anyone who has diligently studied the theory of "Avatars" (Incarnations), knows that these were not the historical figures but were mythological characters. One wonders, how the two are linked together? It is often said: "It is easier to believe a falsehood that you have heard thousand times than to believe the Truth that you are hearing for the first time!!!" 

    Everything that Hadhrat Ali the 1st Imam possessed in his times has been fully and completely delegated, by the process of "nass" (divine delegation), into Ali's 49th direct descendant, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan the present living Imam of the two million or less, Agakhani Ismailis.


   Deviating from the mainstream Shiah concept, Ali's eldest son Hassan becomes Pir (Da'i - Missionary) of the Agakhani Ismailis, having inherited it from Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). Whereas, Ali's second son Hussain becomes the designated 2nd Imam of the Agakhani Ismailis, having been delegated by Ali (r.a.). The rest of the Shiahs regard Hassan as their 2nd Imam and Hussain as the 3rd Imam.

  Here is a translation of a 'Farman' (religious pronouncement), made by the late Aga Khan explaining the unique Ismaili Concept.

"When Nabi Mohammed Mustafa departed from this world he appointed  Pir Imam Hasan as his successor to carry on the work. Similarly, Murtaza Ali appointed Imam Husayn as the Imam after him."
   Gujrati Farman book 'Kutchh na Farman'  pages 8-9.
    A well known senior Ismaili missionary of our era, Abualy A. Aziz of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who prides himself in delivering fiery sermons on "Ali truly Allah", writes:
"The Imam is the Supreme Authority appointed directly by Allah. He is the asa's (foundation, cause, root) and Pi'r is the na'tiq (conversant, conversationalist, messenger). Ima'm is Hujjatullah and Khali'fatullah, the Vicegerent of God; while Pi'r is Hujjatul Ima'm and Khali'ftur Rasoolullah."
  A Brief History of Ismailism (1985), pages 107-108
   When I was an Ismaili mission student, our class was taught that in Surat Al-Baqarah (2) verse 124; Allah appointed Hadhrat Ibrahim (a.s.) as an "Imam to the people" when he was already a Messenger of God. That showed; The status of "Imamah" was higher than that of "Naboowah". This kind of logic was faulty. 

  Here are some true facts. The Qur'an was revealed to the Messenger of God, a Nabi. Not a single verse has been revealed to any of the 49 Ismaili Imams. The Qur'an Commands the Believers to recite "Salwat - Darud" upon the Prophet. Allah's angles also send Darud to the Prophet. There no similar Command from Allah for any living or dead Imam. The name of Prophet (and a Surat in his name) appears in the Qur'an. Neither the name of Hadhrat Ali nor any of his so called 48 direct hereditary descendants appear in the Holy Book. Believers are to follow the "sunnah" of the Prophet (Quran 33:21). There is no such commendation for following the "sunnah" of the Hazar Imam. Surprisingly, the Agakhani Ismailis do not follow the "sunnah" of Karim Aga Khan. If they were, then they should be reciting the Friday noon Prayers, which they do not. In his very early years, as a young boy, Karim Aga Khan lead the Eid Salah of his Ismaili Jamaat in Nairobi. It is worth noting that the same Hazar Imam who is now 63 years old, has never ever lead or recited the enigmatic Ismaili Ritual Prayer called; Du'a. Should a any "Living God" or any "Manifest (Mazhar) of God" go to any Mosque on Fridays and do prostrations to the Almighty Allah?
A Christian would say; Jesus was God but he simply acted as a "Bond Servant" while praying to his Father. Is there a pattern of similarity here?

                            REVEALS THE HOLY QUR'AN

    When Allah (s.w.t.) appointed prophet Abraham and his descendants as the "Leaders" (Imams) of their people, HE also Proclaimed that "they (Imams) constantly served Us* (Allah)." (Surah Al-Anbiyaa (21) verse 73; translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali). In other words; even the Imams who were directly appointed by Allah (s.w.t.), were also the "Servants of Allah". 

  * The Arabic word 'aabidiin (translated "served Us") comes from the root word 'abd meaning; service, worship. The word 'abiidun meaning; "a servant" has its root in the same word.

  All Muslims (except the Agakhani Ismailis), use the phrase 'abdhu wa rasoolhu after the name of prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), in their daily prayers. Which translates; Muhammad was "servant of Allah and messenger of Allah". Since Hadhrat Ali's appointment as a Leader (Imam or Mawla) was made by the Prophet (according to the Shiah Beliefs), it follows that Ali the appointee was also the "servant of Allah".

   In one of the recorded prayers of Hadhrat Ali, published in Nahjul Balagha, Ali the first Imam prays: 

"O my Lord! Thou art the Creator, I am the created; Thou art the Sovereign, I am only Thy servant; I am the beseecher, Thou my Lord! art the Refuge. Thou art the Forgiver, I am the sinner; Thou my Lord! art the Merciful, All-Knowing, All-loving; I am groping in the dark; I seek Thy knowledge and Love..." page 89.
Can Servants be equal to their Masters?
"Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; he has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favors from ourselves and he spends thereof (freely) privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means); praise be to Allah.  But most of them understand not."      Holy Qur'an 16:75
There is no communication from Allah that defines any Imam, appointed directly or remotely, to be the "Mazhar of Allah". 

   Under these circumstances, no upright and honest Alim (a scholar who is knowledgeable in the Qur'an and the Prophetic sayings), and who has also read the history of the Aga Khans could possibly subscribe to the concept that Imam Karim Aga Khan is the "Mazhar of God".

  The important question is; should a Muslim place his/her trust upon the Words of Allah or the Wordings of an International  Conference? I have not read any book or any article written by an Agakhani Ismaili that has declared the Aga Khans as the
"Servants of Allah". Next time if you happen to meet an Ismaili, just ask him; if his Leader - Aga Khan, was the "Servant of Allah"? It will be a very similar experience to the one of asking a Christian; Was his Lord Jesus the "Servant of Almighty God"?
The Bible confirms; Jesus was the Servant of God. (Mt. 12:18; Acts 3:13-26; 4:27 in NRSV; 1 Corin. 15:28; Is. 42:1; 53:11). 

                                    "spokesman for Allah" 

      The International magazine 'LIFE', issue December 1983, page 71, heading 'LIFE visits His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan'. The opening sentence reads:

"To 15 million Muslims in 25 countries, he is a living god, direct descendant of Mohammed and the spokesman for almighty Allah."
       In the ensuing issue of 'LIFE', February 1984, page 15, heading 'LETTERS - The Aga Khan', Aga Khan's Secretariat while refuting the above assertions, wrote:
"...The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam -spiritual leader- of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. The unity of Allah, "Tawheed," is one of the fundamental principles of Islam. For LIFE to assert that the Aga Khan is "a living god"  and "spokesman for Allah" is a total misinterpretation of the most basic tenet of one of the world's major faiths, and a serious affront to all Muslims." 
   During the trial before the High Courts of London in the matter of author Mihir Bose and his publication 'The Aga Khans', Karim Aga Khan declared through his lawyers that neither he nor his grandfather had claimed divinity.

       The followers of Karim Aga Khan may or may not sincerely discern within their souls, these public refutations as; "The Whole Truth". But, no Ismaili who has faith in the "Words of Allah" should deny; "Imams are the servants of Allah". (Qur'an 21:73). 

"Say: 'See ye if the (Revelation) is (really) from Allah and yet do ye reject it? Who is more astray than one who is in schism far (from any purpose)?' Soon will We show them Our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth) and in their own souls until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth.  Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?"

       Holy Qur'an - Surah Ha-Mim (41), verses 52-53.

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