Ismāʿīlism is based on the abrogation of the Islamic law – which means that ever since their imām made a historical declaration at Alamut in 1164, Ismāʿīlis have absolved themselves of all Islamic practices including ṣalāt (prayer), wuḍūʼ (ablution), ṣawm (fasting), hajj (pilgrimage), zakāt (charity), abstinence from ribā (interest) and other obligations placed upon a believing Muslim.
Proving Ismaili ‘qiyama’ from Ismaili and non-Ismaili sources
This historical declaration at Alamut was made on the 17th day of Ramadan, 559 A.H. (8 August 1164) – when Hasan II, then just a representative of the Ismāʿīli Imām, made the following historical declaration:
“The Imām of our time has sent you his blessing and his compassion, and has called you his special chosen servants. He has freed you from the burden of the rules of Holy Law (Shari’a), and has brought you to the Resurrection (Qiyama).”
Source: Lewis, B., (1985, p. 72). The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam. London: Al Saqi Books.
Hasan II (who went on to claim Imamat for himself and became known as Imām Ḥasan ʿAlā Dhikrihi’s Salām) then called for his followers to join him in a banquet, contravening the strictures of Ramaḍān. This event is termed as ‘The Resurrection’ in Ismaili history. It is believed that ever since this event for the past 900 years, Ismāʿīlis have abandoned fasting in the month of Ramaḍān.
This is also recorded in Ismāʿīli history books as follows: “On Ramadan 559/8 August 1194, in the presence of the representatives of different Nizārī territories who had gathered at Alamut, he delivered a sermon in which he proclaimed the qiyama, the long awaited Last Day.”
Source: Daftary, F. (2004, p. 54). Ismaili Literature. London: Institute of Ismaili Studies
It is further recorded that the Ismāʿīlis were “now to rise to a spiritual level of existence, transcending from ẓâhir to bāṭen, from sharia to haqiqa, or from the literal interpretation of the law to an understanding of its spirituality and the eternal religion. On the other hand, the ‘outsiders’, the non-Nizaris who were incapable of recognizing the truth, were rendered spiritually non-existent.”
Source: Daftary, F. (2004, pp. 54-55). Ismaili Literature. London: Institute of Ismaili Studies
This is also recorded by Wood, O. (1835, p.108). History of The Assassins. London: Smith and Elder, Cornhill which mentions that Hasan “made them believe that an envoy of the imām had come to him, and brought an epistle, addressed to all Ismailites, by which the fundamental maxims of the sect were renovated and fortified. He declared that, according to this letter, the gates of mercy and grace were open to all who would follow and obey him; that those were the peculiarly elect; that they should be freed from all obligations of the law; released from the burthen of all commands and prohibitions; that he had brought them now to the day of resurrection (i.e. the manifestation of the imām).”
Burman (1987) further records about the announcement of resurrection by Hasan II (or Imām Ḥasan ʿAlā Dhikrihi’s Salām as popularly known by the Ismāʿīlis) that “on the same day, in the middle of Ramadan, the announcement was followed by a feast that had been prepared by Hasan. Similarly, the position of Hasan’s audience was of vital importance, since they had their backs turned to Mecca. Messengers were sent from Alamut to other strongholds of the Assassins, both in Persia and Syria, where the same ceremony was performed by local leaders.”
Source: Burman, E. (1987, p. 81). The Assassins: Holy Killers of Islam. Great Britian: Thorsons Publishing Group
Affirmation of Abrogation of Fasting by Aga Khan III
Since Ismāʿīlis believe that whatever is prescribed by a latest farman of their imām on the subject is required to be followed, will have a look at the most recent religious texts of the Ismāʿīlis on fasting to find out what exactly has been prescribed for them according to their holy scriptures. Ismāʿīlis believe that abstaining from eating and drinking is not the true spirit of fasting. The following was mentioned by Sultan Mohamed Shah, Aga Khan III:
“The life in this world is of two days (meaning a short time). So you should think of getting purified through worship of God. A true momin does not fast only during the month of Ramadan but all 365 days of the year. He does not commit any sin during all these 365 days of the year. This is the true spirit of fasting. It is not (the spirit) of fasting not to eat anything and indulge in evil acts at the same time. It is an illusion.”
(Source: Kalame Imame Mobin Volume 1, p. 168)
Therefore today, if you were to catch a Ismāʿīli red-handed eating during Ramaḍān, the Ismāʿīli would still claim that he is fasting and that he fasts 365 days of the year because the true spirit of fasting is to not commit sin and not to abstain from eating and drinking. This is in direct contradiction of al-Baqara 2:185 in which Allah has made fasting from dawn to dusk in Ramaḍān mandatory:
“Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qurʾān, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.”
(Holy Qurʾān, Surah al-Baqara, 2:185)
Ramaḍān holds no place in Ismāʿīlism other than the fact that the ‘resurrection’ took place on 17th of Ramaḍān which is when Ismāʿīlis around the world were ‘set free’ of Islamic Law. Ismāʿīlis do not fast, perform ablution, pray, go for Hajj or pay zakāt in clear violation of each and every principle of ʾIslām, and yet choose to call themselves as Muslims and seek to be accepted as Muslims.