Continued from Section One
History of ancient religions is full of legends, handed
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."
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.
'The Religions of Man' page 198 - Harper & Row 1985
'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,
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
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?
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".
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:
'Kalam e Imam e Mubin’ Farman No. 18
"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".
On page 124 of ’Ismaili Tariqah’, Al-Waiz Abualy writes
(quoting a portion from Farman No. 2:
'Kalam e Imam e Mubin'
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".
Is Divinity a Yo-Yo?
'Kalam e Imam e Mubin', Farman No. 80
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
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
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
"... 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?
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.
"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."
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:
Holy Quran 21/28-29
"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
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
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
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
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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