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2. Ismaili Beliefs, Prayers and Practices

The Nizari Ismāʿīli Trinity

The Ismaili Trinity

The Ismaili Trinity

Nizari Ismailis recite the Ismaili Holy Du’a (called Du’a) instead of the Muslim prayer (called salāt in Arabic and namaz in Persian and Urdu). In Urdu-speaking countries, Ismailis insist that since the word namaz does not appear anywhere in the Quran, the namaz which is recited by the Muslims is never commanded by the Quran and that the Ismailis are free to call it Du’a since it is one of the meanings of the Arabic word salāt.

Beyond just the word, the Du’a offered by the Nizari Ismailis is not anything like the Muslim salāt which the Prophet (pbuh) used to offer and which Muslims to-date have learned and practised. Not only did the Prophet (pbuh) offered the Muslim salāt, he also instructed us:

“Pray as you have seen me praying.” (Sahih Bukhari Book 1, Vol. 1, Hadith #604)

Other than being different than the Muslim salāt, a deeper inspection of this Du’a reveals many aspects of Ismailis’ own version of Trinity. Daily recitation of this Holy Du’a subliminally minimizes the difference between Allah (swt), Ali (ra) and Aga Khan since the Ismaili worshiper invokes all three during his prayer thinking that he is invoking a single deity.

1. Fixed Form of Nizari Ismaili Holy Dua

The Muslim salah begins with the mandatory recitation of Surah al-Fatiha followed by a recitation of any verse(s) or chapter(s) from the Quran, followed by ruku (bowing) and sujud (prostration). There is no option on the Ismaili worshiper to recite any Chapter of the Quran – the content is fixed and contextually, the Ismaili Holy Dua is directed towards Allah – or is it? We shall examine this in the later part of this article.

2. Triple Invocation

2.1 Triple Invocation #1 (of 3): Invoking Allah (swt) as Ya Mowlana

As claimants of being members of the Muslim Ummah, the Ismailis invoke Allah in their Holy Dua as do more than a billion Muslims around the world. They address Allah as Ya Mowlana

In Unit 2 of Ismaili Holy Du’a, it is recited:

اللهمَ يا مولانا انتَ السَّلامُ وَ مِنكَ السَّلامُ


Allahumma ya mawlānā  antas-salam, wa minkas-salam,

Translation (English):

O Allah, O our Lord, Thou art the peace, and from Thee is the peace.

Translation (Urdu):

اے اللہ، اے  ہمارے مولا، تو ہی سلامتی ہے اور تجھ ہی سے سلامتی لوٹتی ہے

Here is an excerpt from the Ismaili Dua book as an evidence of the above:

Ismaili Holy Dua Pages 8-9

In the same Unit 2 of the Holy Dua, the Ismaili worshiper recites:

اللهُمَ يا مَوْلاَنا مِنكَ مَدَدِي


Allahumma ya mowlana minka madadi

Translation (English):

O Allah, O our Lord, from Thee is my help

Translation (Urdu):

اے اللہ، اے ہمارے مولا، تجھ  ہی سے میری امداد ہوتی رہتی ہے

Here is an excerpt from the Ismaili Dua book as an evidence of the above:

Dua Pages 10-11

Ismaili Holy Dua Pages 10-11

The above therefore establishes that Allah (swt) is invoked, and equated to Mawla, and is asked for help (مدد), which can be illustrated as follows:

2.1 Build-up to the Ismaili Trinity

2.1 Build-up to the Ismaili Trinity

2.2 Triple Invocation #2 (of 3): Invoking Ali (ra)

In Unit 2 of the Holy Dua, the Ismaili worshiper invokes Ali (ra) instead of Allah (swt) by saying:

يا علي بلطفكَ ادركني


Ya ‘Ali Bilutfika Adrikni

Translation (English):

O ‘Aly, help me with your kindness

Translation (Urdu):

اے  علیؑ، اپنے لطف و عنایت  سے میری امداد کے لئے پہنچ

Here is an excerpt from the Ismaili Dua book as an evidence of the above:

Dua Pages 10-11 ya ali bilutfika

Ismaili Holy Dua Pages 10-11

This establishes the second component of the Ismaili Trinity where instead of Allah (swt), Ali (ra) is invoked for help by the worshiper during the Ismaili Holy Dua, which can be illustrated as follows:

2.3 Build up to the Ismaili Trinity

2.3 Build up to the Ismaili Trinity

2.3 Triple Invocation #3 (of 3): Invoking Hazar Imam or Aga Khan

In the same Ismaili Holy Du’a in Unit 5 the Ismaili worshiper says with his hands raised:

يا امامَ الزَّمان يا مولانا انتَ قُوَّتِي و انت سَندي وعليكَ اتكالي
يا حاضر يا موجود يا شاه كريم الحسيني، انتَ الامامُ الحقُ المُبِيْنُ


ya imamaz-zaman, ya mawlānā, anta quwwati , wa anta sanadi, wa’alaykat tlkali,
ya hadir, ya mawjud, ya Shah Karim al husayni, anta al imam ul haqq ul mubin

Translation (English):

O Imam of the time, O our Lord, Thou art my strength and Thou art my support and on Thee I rely
O present O living, O Shah Karim al-Husayni, Thou art the true manifest Imam.

Translation (Urdu):

اے امامِ زمان، اے ہمارے مولا، توہی میری قوت ہے اور تو ہی میرا سہارا ہے اور تجھ ہی پر میرا توکل ہے
اے حاضر، اے موجود ، اے شاہ کریم الحسینی، تو ہی  برحق اور ظاہر امام ہے

Here is an excerpt from the Ismaili Dua book as an evidence of the above:

Ismaili Holy Dua, Pages 22-23

Ismaili Holy Dua, Pages 22-23

Therefore here, the Imam az-Zaman (or the Imam of the present time, which is the Aga Khan) is invoked during the Ismaili Holy Du’a:

Hazar Imam is given the title of Mowlana – same as the name given to Allah in the second unit of the Ismaili Dua (illustrated and described above in Section 2.1).

Hazar Imam is asked for strength and support (help) – same as it was sought from Ali (ra) in the second unit of the Ismaili Dua (illustrated and described above in Section 2.2)

These three invocations complete the Ismaili Trinity in the form of Allah (swt), Ali (ra) and the Hazar Imam – all of who are addressed as lord and asked for help, which can be illustrated as follows:

2.3 Completing the Ismaili Trinity

2.3 Completing the Ismaili Trinity

3. Conclusion

Allah says in the Quran in Surah al-Jinn Chapter 72, Verse 18:

وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا


Wa ‘Anna Al-Masājida Lillāhi Falā Tad`ū Ma`a Allāhi ‘Aĥadāan

Translation (English):

And that the masjids are for Allah, so do not invoke with Allah anyone.

Translation (Urdu):

ور یہ کہ مسجدیں صرف اللہ ہی کے لئے خاص ہیں پس اللہ تعالیٰ کے ساتھ کسی اور کو نہ پکارو

In spite of clear prohibition of worshiping anyone other than Allah according to the Islamic creed and according to the Quran, this ritual of offering prayers is repeated daily in the Ismaili Jamatkhanas (or Ismaili Centers as they are called in the west). When the Ismaili worshiper is reciting this Holy Dua, he is directing it towards a single deity like Muslims do. Muslims, however invoke, praise and worship Allah whereas in the Ismaili Holy Dua, Ismailis invoke and praise Ali (ra) and Hazar Imam. As a result of this trinity, the differentiation between Allah, Ali (ra) and Hazar Imam is subconsciously removed. A normal Ismaili assumes Hazar Imam to have divine powers. Author Mihir Bose writes in book The Aga Khans:

In 1967 a young man, just turning thirty, visited a small Asian community in Iringa in Tanzania. The young man had a most curios background; his mother was English, his father half Italian and he himself was one of the richest men in the world. He had arrived in Iringa, and its small community of 800-odd Asians, as part of his religious duties. Iringa is one of those Tanzanian places which nobody has ever heard of, and no celebrity ever visits. But this young man’s visit was so important that a special extension was built onto the house in which he was to live. This was fitted out in what locals called ‘the Western style’, meaning a bathroom with a proper toilet and a bath tub. Some time during his stay in Iringa the young man had a bath in the bath tub. This would hardly be worth mentioning except that long after the young man had left Iringa, the water that he had used for his bath was saved and bottled. The Asian community in Iringa believed the young man was God and they were happy to buy bottles of the young man’s bath water and preserve it in their homes as a sure mark of their God.

When Willi Frischauer, during writing of his book on the historical account of Karim al Hussaini and his ancestors, spoke to a young Ismaili graduate in an important position in a Commonwealth organization whom he asked to tell the Aga Khan of their conversation, the student replied: ‘Of course, of course – but, being the Imam, he will know anyway.’

Thousands of Ismailis around the world today are living testimony of the belief that their Hazar Imam possesses divine powers of listening to the supplications of Ismailis wherever they speak to him in whatever language they invoke him and granting them their wishes. This is the reason that at the end of every Holy Dua in the Jamatkhana, the following supplications, among many more, are made all across the world calling the Hazar Imam, while the Aga Khan has no worldly possible means of hearing these:

Ya nur mowlana Shah Karim al Husaini Hazar Imam, forgive the sins of the Jamaat

یا نور مولانا شاہ کریم الحسینی حاضر امام جماعت کے کُل گناہ معاف فرما

Ya nur mowlana Shah Karim al Husaini Hazar Imam, give ease to the Jamat in their difficulties

یا نور مولانا شاہ کریم الحسینی حاضر امام جماعت کی کُل مشکلیں آسان فرما

Ya nur mowlana Shah Karim al Husaini Hazar Imam, bless the Jamat with your spiritual glimpse

یا نور مولانا شاہ کریم الحسینی حاضر امام جماعت کو اپنا نورانی دیدار نصیب فرما


May Allah guide the Ismailis to take their guidance from the Quran rather than anything else, and enable them to seek help from Allah rather than anyone else. Amen.


About Akbar Khoja

Giving out free #LessonsInIsmailism.


14 thoughts on “The Nizari Ismāʿīli Trinity

  1. If u do not follow ismailism,no problem but atleast keep your views to yourself,Agar hum log shirk kartey hai,Toh hum Allah ko jawabdaar hai,Aap apni fikar karey,Yeh sab keh Kar,Aap Kaunsa Sawab Kama rahey ho.Listen Sir,Sab se bada mazab Insaniyat (Humanity) hai.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Salma Wadiwala | May 9, 2015, 11:38 am
  2. Mr Khoja sir, you are absolutely correct in saying that Ismaili people believe in Trinity. Also, we Ismaili believe that Imam of the time, the Aga Khan, knows everything. I assure you sir that Allah is also aware of what we are doing, and he will do the justice. If Allah didn’t want, we would not exist, and so would the other religions. But, as we all are still living and prosporing, I think Allah’s will is there.

    As for Trinity, one verse in the Holly Quaran says, Atiullah va atiur rasul, va ullil amri minkum, meaning obey Allah, and obey Rassul, and obey the one who can command. I think the Holly Quran is talking about Trinity here.

    I appreciate your concerns for your fellow humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Samir Thakkar | June 11, 2015, 6:56 am
    • Samir, appreciate your comments. However, the disservice you have done to the Quran by claiming that it commands Trinity, does not equate remotely to the Ismaili trinity. Ismailis hold Allah (swt), Hazar Imam and Ali (ra) in the same rank whereas when the Quran commands to obey Allah and his Messenger (pbuh). Do you obey Allah and the Messenger (pbuh). You don’t. You are rejectors of Hadith.

      If you really want to know the meaning of “Ulil Amr” as prescribed by 4:59, go and read the article “Hazar Imam’s Status as Ulil Amr in the Light of Quran and Hadith”
      at https://insideismailism.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/aga-khan-ulil-amr-quran-hadith/

      May Allah guide you to the right path.


      Posted by Akbar Khoja | June 27, 2015, 7:09 am
  3. That’s a poor analysis and mis-representation of information. You apparently don’t have any knowledge of Ismaili Doctrine, and here you are concluding stuff from your own fabrication. You do not even realize the status of the Imam, and Allah. This is all due to your ignorance.


    Posted by talaha | June 18, 2015, 3:55 am
    • Son, I know more about Ismailism than you since I am an ex-missionary unlike yourself.


      Posted by Akbar Khoja | June 27, 2015, 6:59 am
      • Glad you are an ex-missionary – Imagine how I would hate to hear your waize?
        You remind me of Late Akbar Mehrali – You have too much time doing unnecessary things Get a Real Job earn some money instead of hand outs!!!! Do something productive. “Lakhapati Charapati Chale Gaia” You will also go like Akbar Mehrali – so will your web site. Grow up and face the reality


        Posted by Nizar Jiwa | July 3, 2015, 7:51 pm
        • Akbaraly Meherally was not a person, he was a phenomenon. So is Akbar Khoja. I might perish, but the fraud which Aga Khan is committing will continue to be exposed by every generation of ex-Ismailis. 50 years ago, leaving Ismailism was something unheard of. Today, it is common. A lot of people come to Islam. In the West a lot of Ismaili girls leave Ismailism and marry into Hindu families who are already inclined towards atheism. Sorry, but the ground reality is that the average age of a dedicated Ismaili is well into the sixties. The movement of Akbar Khoja will not perish, but it will grow. Ismailism might not perish, but it will continue to stay as a very very small minority, and shrink further. THAT’s the reality son. 🙂


          Posted by Akbar Khoja | August 9, 2015, 4:21 pm


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