Many times my friends and people I came across ask me about the specific clear verses of the Qurʾān which guided me from the darkness of shirk and kufr to noor-e-hidaya. Instead of giving a long list, I would like to go by the episodes that occurred in my life and how did these events help me to achieve the enlightenment of the Qurʾān.
I was born in the decade of twenties of the last century in a family which was a staunch believer in Ismāʿīli tenets of faith and rituals. Ismāʿīlism was drilled into our brains from the very formative years. I had to attend religious night school at the Jamatkhana with strict compulsion from my father. Through many years of brainwashing, I too became a staunch believer in Ismāʿīlism.
I was in my final year of my High School studies when Imām Sultan Muhammad Shah had come to Bombay for the celebration of his Diamond Jubilee festival. My family also reached Bombay to participate in this festival. Here on 29th December 1945, a religious decree (called a ‘farman’) was pronounced in which Aga Khan III, Sultan Muhammad Shah ordained that Ismāʿīlis do not have a book for guidance or hidaya and instead of a book, they have living Imām for guidance or hidaya. This was in accordance with the religious teachings provided in the religious night school.
Haq Mawlana Dhani Salamat Datar Sultan Muhammad Hazar Imām ordained that:
“You are aware of the fact that the life and the world are under constant changes. In such situation only Hazar Imām can provide the proper guidance. There is no written book for guidance for the Ismailis, but, there is living Imām.”
Reference: Farman No.530/II/p-393 Bombay, Wadi D/-29-12-1945 Kalam-e-Imām-e-Mubin: Holy Farmans of Mawlana Hazar Imām Sultan Muhammad Shah, Part 2 from 1911 A.D. to 1951 A.D. Published by Hon. Secretary; Mr V N Huda Press and Publication Department on behalf of Ismailia Association for India. Ismaili Printing Press, Bhimpura Dongri Mumbai, 1951 A. D.
Everyone present in the gathering concluded the following key messages from the above speech of the Aga Khan III:
- The Final Holy Quran Revealed by Allah is not a book of divine hidaya or guidance.
- Only Hazar Imām can provide divine hidaya or guidance
I was very enthusiastic to practice upon this farman and was actively conveying this message to other members of the Ismāʿīli community.
After graduation, I migrated to Pakistan. As I had no money with me it took some years to settle down in Karachi. The tenets of the faith and rituals here in Karachi were the same.
In 1956 a new Ismāʿīli prayer (called duʿāʾ which Ismāʿīlis offer in lieu of the Muslim ṣalāt) was introduced and the old one was abrogated. To my astonishment this prayer was in Arabic while the previous one was in Gujrati language. All the parts of this Ismāʿīli prayer began with an āyah or verse of the Qurʾān.
This posed a great question to me: How it is possible that the same Imām in December 1945 who issued the farman that Ismāʿīlis do not have any written book for guidance, and thus played down the Qurʾān, comes back after a few years and imposes a new Ismāʿīli prayer (duʿāʾ) in which he picks up verses from the same Qurʾān? From this point, Allāh guided me to study the Qurʾān that enlightened and illuminated my soul and changed my thought process.
I went back to what Aga Khan III had claimed earlier as himself being ‘guidance’ and compared it with the following in Qurʾān 2:2-7:
ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah
الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,
وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُون
And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].
أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَأَنذَرْتَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تُنذِرْهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe.
خَتَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment.
In the above verses, Allāh is clear that this book is guidance wherein there is no doubt (that is from Allah). Therefore, it is perfect and eternal for the whole of humanity. But this guidance is only for the muttaqi, who have been defined as defined as those who have faith in the unseen viz. Allah, the Angels, Heaven and Hell, etc., and secondly those who offer ṣalāt regularly, and thirdly who spend money in the way of Allāh.
Allāh says that it is these people who are on the right path and are successful in this life and the hereafter. For those who deny any of these six points cannot be faithful to Allah even if the Prophet (pbuh) directly preached to them. Their Soul and Mind, Their Hearing and visual capability get sealed through their own deeds and unwillingness.
These are just the first 7 verses of the Qurʾān after the al-Fatiha in which it is clear that the only guidance is the book. There is no room for any ‘Living Imām’ in this chapter or anywhere else in the Qurʾān. In addition, there are over 20 proofs in the Qurʾān that the Qurʾān itself is to be followed for guidance:
Say, “Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur’an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah , confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” (2:97)
And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient. (2:99)
And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, “Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance.” If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper. (2:120)
This [Qur’an] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allāh. (3:138)
Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. (3:164)
O mankind, there has come to you a conclusive proof from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear light. (4:174)
And thus do We detail the verses, and [thus] the way of the criminals will become evident. (6:55)
Or lest you say, “If only the Scripture had been revealed to us, we would have been better guided than they.” So there has [now] come to you a clear evidence from your Lord and a guidance and mercy. Then who is more unjust than one who denies the verses of Allah and turns away from them? We will recompense those who turn away from Our verses with the worst of punishment for their having turned away. (6:157)
And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, those who do not expect the meeting with Us say, “Bring us a Qurʾān other than this or change it.” Say, [O Muhammad], “It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.” (10:15)
Alif, Laam, Meem, Raa: These are the verses of the Book; and what has been revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, but most of the people do not believe. (13:1)
Alif, Laam, Meem, Raa: [This is] a Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that you might bring mankind out of darknesses into the light by permission of their Lord – to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy (14:1)
Alif, Laam, Meem, Raa: These are the verses of the Book and a clear Qurʾān [i.e., recitation]. (15:1)
Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [i.e., the Qurʾān], and indeed, We will be its guardian. (15:9)
[We sent them] with clear proofs and written ordinances. And We revealed to you the message [i.e., the QurÕŒn] that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought. (16:44)
And We have not revealed to you the Book, [O Muúammad], except for you to make clear to them that wherein they have differed and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe. (16:64)
[All] praise is [due] to Allāh, who has sent down upon His Servant [Muúammad ()] the Book and has not made therein any deviance. (18:1)
And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge. (18:27)
Blessed is He who sent down the criterion (the Qurʾān) to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures (25:1)
These are Verses of the Book that makes (things) clear. (28:2)
Alif, Laam, Meem. These are verses of the wise Book, as guidance and mercy for the doers of good who establish prayer and give zakah, and they, of the Hereafter, are certain [in faith]. Those are on [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful. (31:1-5)
And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and it guides to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy. (34:6)
By the clear Book. Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind]. Therein [i.e., on that night] is made distinct every precise matter – [every] matter [proceeding] from Us. Indeed, We were to send [a messenger]. (44:2-5)
This [Qurʾān] is enlightenment for mankind and guidance and mercy for a people who are certain [in faith]. (45:20)
But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad – for it is the Truth from their Lord, He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition. (47:2)
There is no reference in whole of the Qurʾān, in any one ayah that there can be a living Imām as providing guidance. Everywhere, only the is Qurʾān the guidance. Therefore, I earnestly request Ismāʿīli brothers not fall in the trap and deception of the myth of a ‘living Imām’. Believe not any one but believe in the words of Allāh for the guidance of humanity that are in the Qurʾān where there cannot be any misguidance.