Category Archives: 4. Quran and Ismailism

The Quran: Outdated or Timeless?

One of the major doubts instilled in the minds of Ismāʿīlis by Aga Khan and his missionaries is that the Qurʼān can no more can be used as a source of guidance in the present day and age, and is outdated. They are taught that Aga Khan’s farmāns are interpretation of  Qurʼādn in accordance to modern times. This is one of the biggest blatant lies that Aga Khan is using Qurʼān for his farmāns. Also, it is a baseless doubt that Qurʼān is outdated.

What is the “Modern Society?”

What we call modern society is only identified by the changes in technology, science, traditions, culture and the likes but if we ask the question to Ismāʿīlis how much has man changed from within?

Is there no discrimination in our modern world based on gender, ethnicity, race, caste, creed religion, color? Are there no murders, rape, crimes happening in our “modern world”? Is technological progress the only indication of intellectual progress as a species? Have we been smart enough to take care of the world we live in with utmost care? Have we been able to pull up the oppressed and underprivileged sections of our societies to a respectable and humane level?

Would you consider our “modern world” fit enough for our children to live in?

These questions hint at  just the tip of the iceberg which we face as a human race.

The Reason for revelation of the Qurʼān

The Qurʼān wasn’t sent to us so that we could make outer progress and then discard it. It was sent as a mercy for our inner self as a guide to a fulfilling life. So, is it outdated? Well I don’t see man has become any better then what he was eons ago.

As a society, we are different today – but different doesn’t necessarily mean better. A Muslim may live a hundred years and may still not be able to perfect the principles that God asked us to. It is sent as a guidance which cuts across time and space and not just to a particular section and period of a society.

And with the truth We have sent the Qurʼān down, and with the truth it has descended. And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a bringer of good tidings and a warner.

Qurʼān 17:105

3. Qurʼān presents a timeless challenge

The Qurʼān challenges those who read it – no matter when – to produce something better than the Qurʼān. This is the most serious challenge to those who say the Qurʼān is outdated or in doubt of its authenticity. The Qurʼān challenges the linguists of our time to compose something in its style, eloquence and meaning in the Arabic language. It is also a book that not only been preserved in its content but the modes of recitation have been preserved so much so millions have committed it to memory. 

And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a sūrah like it; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides God, if you are truthful.

Qurʼān 2:23

4. Qurʼān timelessly changes people’s way of life

Qurʼān continues to change people’s lives no matter the time. Without the Qurʼān being changed over time people are willing to alter their life just by reading one book, and people are able to practice what a book has taught 1400 years ago. It is the fastest growing religion and many testimonies have been made that Qurʼān changed their life including priests, Western ex-soldiers, scientists, comedians, former convicts, politicians, actors and many others. Islām is a way of life and people are attracted towards the teachings taught in the book no matter their profession. No matter the place or the time, people are able to practice the faith. 

This [Qurʼān] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allah.

Qurʼān 3:138

5. The Qurʼān is timeless because it tackles modern day ailments

Qurʼān tackles many modern-day ailments of society including gambling, drinking alcohol (leads to death do vehicular accident, date rape, etc.), loaning money on interest (modern day slavery and cause of much pain caused by not being able to payoff debt, causing the next generation to be in more debt), sexual promiscuity, inequality, suicide. This includes emotional ailments of greed, envy, evil thoughts, distress, sadness, feeling hopeless, loneliness, backbiting, boastfulness, spying on one another. Keep in mind that these issues are tackled from the root cause with profound statement of why it is harmful. There are to many examples of this in the Qurʼān but one that stands out is the following verse:

 Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakāh; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. 

Qurʼān 2:177

It is amazing how this verse starts with saying righteousness is not about physical rituals it is about believing and that belief causes individual to solve real world issues like poverty, especially your immediate family that may be in need.

6. The Qurʼān is timeless because it challenges modern civilization

It would make sense for the Qurʼān only speak of religious rituals but it tackles modern civilization and surprisingly scenarios that last Prophet dealt with 1400 years ago all at the same time. This includes what to do during battle, who to wage war against, who not to wage war against, protect the places where God’s name is mentioned including Churches and Synagogues, what to do with war booty. As well as topics related to family relations between husband and wife, divorce, what should both parties do during divorce, after divorce, how is inheritance allocated after a person dies. The list goes on and on and really is the modern-day living challenge. As non-Muslims like George Bernard Shaw has said if the last Messenger, the walking Qurʼān, “were alive today he will solve the world’s issue over a cup of tea.

And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect among every nation a witness over them from themselves. And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.

Qurʼān 16:89

7. The Qurʼān is timeless because it also speaks in extreme detail life after death so it speaks about the future

With all that valuable content stated above the Day of Judgement, the future, is also mentioned at every page to warn those who are heedless to what really matters most and be aware of our end. Just this topic alone can be a book in itself so let me just emphasize one verse that shows people who are blind of the Qurʼān and hearts locked no matter the evidence given to them. 

And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.

Qurʼān, 7:179

8. Qurʼān is sent for all humankind (هدى للناس), till the day of judgement

Though certain teachings address few matters which vanished as the time passed. For example, teaching of slavery is one of them. There are verses which addressed the rules to treat the slaves, which gave them significant status in society, e.g. treating them equally, and choosing same for them what you choose for yourself. But as the slavery vanished in modern society, those summons became inapplicable. But they’re there as summons/words of Allah. These summons/verse can be used to extract any law/direction by Ulema (knowledgeable persons) for future coming events and situations.

Qurʼān being an ultimate source of Islāmic wisdom, is considered the base of every rules and regulation for present time and the time which has yet to come.

If one thing is not openly declared in Qurʼān, then Hadith (Muhammad’s words, action and agreement with any action done in front of him) is the reference for Islāmic Laws. Any event which takes place and isn’t covered already will be addressed by ijtihād (Islāmic reasoning) by exploring the existing teachings in Qurʼān, Hadith and Fiqh (explanation of Sharia through ijtihād).

The Case Against Aga Khan

Over the past many years of writing on the Inside Ismailism blog, I have received a number of acknowledgments from ex-Ismaili Muslims the course of whose lives were changed by the Inside Ismailism blog, and they left Ismailism to embrace the light of Islam. There were Muslims too, who read about the practices of Ismailism on the Inside Ismalism blog, and were immensely surprised that the practices of Ismailism were so much disconnected from mainstream Islam that they would never have known unless for the Inside Ismailism blog. Such was the case of a Muslim boy who wanted to marry into a Ismaili family, and then of a Muslim girl who wanted to marry into a Ismaili family – by the grace of Allah both of them saw the true path and changed their decisions. These decisions did not impact just four lives, but they will impact generations. These are just a few of the ways in which the Inside Ismailism blog has touched the lives of many.

Then there are some Muslims, many of who are friends, who advocate a more subtle way of preaching to Ismailis, oft quoting that invitation to Islam should be made with “wisdom” – this is, softly. The oft-quoted verse in favor of this behavior is the following: 

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

Invite ˹all˺ to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord ˹alone˺ knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is ˹rightly˺ guided.

al-Quran, 16:125

Method of understanding religious commands

Before going any further, we must understand that deen cannot be understood by just taking one or two verses out of the Quran and amplifying them over the entire seerah of the Prophet and the rest of the 6,000+ verses of the Quran. Any subject must be analyzed by looking at all the evidences in Quran and Sunnah, and how the Companions understood and implemented what they learned from the Prophet (ﷺ). After all, the Prophet (ﷺ) was the best example of how Islam should be practiced, preached  and implemented over the society and in our daily lives. The basic example is that of the prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj. One cannot perform these basic commandments prescribed in the Quran unless the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) is referred to and seen how these commandments were implemented. Picking up a Quranic commandment and applying one’s own whims and desires in the method of understanding and applying is akin to saying that we, today in the twenty-first century have a better understanding than how the Prophet (ﷺ) understood and implemented the Quran.

What is Aga Khan’s claim?

Aga Khan claims to be no less than God. Sultan Mohamed Shah, Aga Khan III, himself claimed that “Ismailis worship me” (Ali, Kassim. The Ever Living Guide. Page 2. Karachi: Ismailia Association Pakistan). This claim of Aga Khan is also manifested today, and thrice-a-day every day, in the Ismaili prayer, recited in Ismaili Jamatkhanas when Ismailis ask Aga Khan to forgive their sins, and for health, wealth and happiness, beliving that Aga Khan is omnipresent and omniscient, and is listening to each and every Ismaili in the world at all times. The Aga Khan prescribes three daily prayers (one in the morning and two combined in the evening) – these prayers have no resemblance to the Islamic salat, and can be prayed facing any direction and not the direction of K’aba which Muslims face. The Imam of Ismailis has abolished Ramadhan fasting for Ismailis, replacing it with Shukrvari Beej fasting which is fasting only 3-4 days a year. He asks Ismailis to pay to him directly 12.5% dasond on each Ismaili’s monthly income rather than the yearly 2.5% zakat on excess wealth, and has replaced the Hajj with his deedar. 

Inside cover of “The Ever Living Guide” published by Ismailia Association Pakistan in which Aga Khan claims that “Ismailis worship me, who has the blood of their Prophet running through my veins”.

How did the Prophet () deal with similar claims?

Now that we understand what exactly Aga Khan’s claim is, we now have to analyze how the Prophet himself dealt with instances where someone claimed the same authority as the Aga Khan, as Allah Himself pointed us towards the Prophet (ﷺ ) to take guidance from him in all affairs:


لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا

Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for whoever has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah often. 

al-Quran 33:21

Someone who made a similar claim in seventh century Arabia, as Aga Khan does today, was none other than Musaylimah bin Ḥabīb. Dabestan-e-Madahib narrates that Musaylimah taught three daily prayers to God facing whatever side [exactly like Ismailis do], Ramadhan fasting was mandated in the night only, and he rejected circumcision. When the Prophet (ﷺ) received a letter from Musaylimah signed by Musaylimah as  ‘Messenger of God’, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) immediately replied to him in his letter: “From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. ” To date, Musaylimah is known as Musaylimah the arch-liar (الكذّاب‎‎), rather than his real name of  Musaylimah bin Ḥabīb. Was the Prophet (ﷺ) not exercising wisdom (al-Hikmah) when he outrightly called Musaylimah as the ‘arch-liar’?

What is ‘al-Hikmah’ 

At this point, the word al-Hikmah as it appears in 16:125 needs more elaboration. It is normally assumed that al-Hikmah is one’s own understanding to apply his own wisdom. But how can that be true? If one person is being invited to Islam by ten people, these ten people would have different interpretations and applications of ‘wisdom’. It is for that very reason that the definition and understanding of ‘wisdom’ needs to be a central understanding and not a diverse understanding, for a diverse understanding will dilute and misrepresent Islam. Ibn Kathir mentions that Ibn Jarir said, about ‘al-Hikmah’ in the interpretation of 16:125 that al-Hikmah is “what was revealed to him from the Book and the Sunnah”. 
It is not the sole incident of Musaylimah, but also the overwhelming evidence of the general method which the Prophet (ﷺ) used to preach his message, how he criticized the falsehood, and how the Quran itself addresses the disbelievers and warns them of ever-lasting punishment of hellfire without mincing any words. Is the word of Allah and the life and method of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) not the most perfect example of al-Hikmah? 

Let us also examine how the Prophet (ﷺ) preached the message in early days of the Prophethood to his family and close relatives. The period of open preaching started with Allah revealing the following verse:

وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ

And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred.

al-Quran, 26:214

Upon receiving the above verse, the Prophet (ﷺ) famously mounted on mount as-Safa and said: “O Quraish, rescue yourselves from the Fire; O people of Bani K’ab, rescue yourselves from Fire; O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad (ﷺ), rescue yourself from the Fire, for I have no power to protect you from Allâh in anything except that I would sustain relationship with you.” 

Do we see the Prophet (ﷺ) mincing any words here? Do we see him what qualifies as a ‘politically correct’ statement in today’s day and age? Do we see him censoring the word ‘Hellfire’ here? The Prophet (ﷺ) was clear, direct and to-the-point in the above message and this was his very first public invitation to the Quraish towards Islam, and he was very clear that “no blood relationship, but only Islam would be the cornerstone of any future relationship between him and the Quraish”. (Mubarakpuri. 2002. The Second Phase – Open Preaching. In The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet. Riyadh: Dar-Us-Salam).

The Prophet (ﷺ) was then commanded by Allah:

فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

Then declare what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists.

al_Quran 15:94

After the above verse was revealed, the Prophet (ﷺ) “commenced discrediting the superstitious practices of idolatry, revealing its worthless reality and utter impotence, and giving concrete proofs that idolatry per se or taking it as the media through which an idolater could come in contact with Allâh, is manifest falsehood.” (Mubarakpuri) Therefore, we know here that the Prophet (ﷺ) openly and clearly rejected not only the false prophets, but also the false practices of idolatry in his early days of spreading the message. We should remember that Mecca was a tightly-knit society and the ones to whom the message was preached was the family and relatives of the Prophet (ﷺ) and this was the exact tone which the Prophet (ﷺ) carried. Was this not “wisdom”? Could not the Prophet (ﷺ) have thought that this method of preaching was ‘harsh’? Would he have thought that a better, softer way would perhaps lead his loved and dear ones to Islam? He obviously didn’t, and even if he did, his submission was to the will of Allah (swt) and not to his own thoughts and his own rationalization of ‘al-Hikmah’.

 Conclusion

In today’s day and age, it should be our firm belief that the Quran and Sunnah, including the method of the Prophet (ﷺ) was and will always will be the exemplary method of inviting non-Muslims to Islam, calling out the Kuffar and their leaders, discrediting their false Gods and calling out their double standards. Scholars have always called out falsehood in the name of تنھون عن المنکر – they have issued numerous fatwas against Ismailism. Guidance (hidaya) is in the hands of Allah and believing that it’s our own dawah technique which would guide someone to the way of Allah is nothing but pride (kibr) as Allah says in the Quran: 

إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

“You [Prophet] cannot guide [to the Truth] whom you love, but Allah guides him who wants to be guided. And He knows best those who are guided”

al-Quran, 28:56

Leaving Ismailism: From Darkness to Light

darkness-to-light-wp-cover

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.

Scanned page from Kalam-e-Imam-e-Mubin
Scanned page from Kalam-e-Imam-e-Mubin

Translation:

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:

  1. The Final Holy Quran Revealed by Allah is not a book of divine hidaya or guidance.
  2. 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:

Proof #1

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)

Proof #2

And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient. (2:99)

Proof #3

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)

Proof #4

This [Qur’an] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allāh. (3:138)

Proof #5

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)

Proof #6

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)

Proof #7

And thus do We detail the verses, and [thus] the way of the criminals will become evident. (6:55)

Proof #8

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)

Proof #9

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)

Proof #10

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)

Proof #11

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)

Proof #12

Alif, Laam, Meem, Raa: These are the verses of the Book and a clear Qurʾān [i.e., recitation]. (15:1)

Proof #13

Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [i.e., the Qurʾān], and indeed, We will be its guardian. (15:9)

Proof #14

[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)

Proof #15

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)

Proof #16

[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)

Proof #17

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)

Proof #18

Blessed is He who sent down the criterion (the Qurʾān) to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures (25:1)

Proof #19

These are Verses of the Book that makes (things) clear. (28:2)

Proof #20

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)

Proof #21

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)

Proof #22

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)

Proof #23

This [Qurʾān] is enlightenment for mankind and guidance and mercy for a people who are certain [in faith]. (45:20)

Proof #24

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)

Conclusion

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.

Aga Khan’s claim of ‘interpreting the Qurān’ is far from what the Ahl-ul-Bayt practised

aga khan's claim of interpret...

Out of the many unsubstantiated claims of Ismāʿīlism is a one that Aga Khan interprets the Qurʾān for them. It is interesting that Aga Khan has never publicly or privately within his followers, interpreted any part of the Qurʾān. He has claimed to believe in the Qurʾān in interviews and has claimed descent from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through his cousin ʿAlī bin Abi Ṭālib, but actions speak far louder than words and his actions are nowhere close to the teachings of the Qurʾān.

The question which Ismailis should be asking themselves and their leadership is that for someone who claims such close association to the Ahl al-Bayt, why is the attitude towards Qurʾān so different than what was the attitude of the Ahl al-Bayt, and in particular that of ʿAlī bin Abi Ṭālib (ra) towards the Qurʾān?

The education that ʿAlī ibn Abi Ṭālib (ra) received was the same as that which all the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) received. They were educated on the basis of the Noble Qurʾān, and their teacher was the master of all mankind, Muhammad (pbuh).

The Beloved Prophet (pbuh) was keen that there should be one source and reference point, and that the Noble Qurʾān was to be the only way to follow, along with the wisdom that the Allāh‎, may He be glorified and exalted, revealed to him. So he educated the Muslims, individuals, families and society, in the beliefs, acts of worship, ways of interacting and morals and manners that were brought in the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger (pbuh). The verses that ʿAlī (ra) heard directly from the Messenger of Allāh (pbuh) had an impact on the formation of his Islamic character. They purified his heart and soul and illuminated his mind, and his soul interacted with them. This turned him into a new person with new values, feelings, aims, behaviour and ambitions “ (Al- Isti’sab fi Ma’rifat al- Ashab P.1102 Al- Mari’fat wat – Tareekh , 1/481)

From the Noble Qurʾān and the prophetic education he received, ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ learned who the Allāh was that he should worship Allāh‎ alone. The Prophet (pbuh) implanted in his heart the meanings of those verses; Prophet (pbuh) was keen to educate his Companions in the correct concept of their Lord and His rights over them, knowing that this concept would lead to belief and certainty when souls are pure and their fitrah is sound. (Fadda’il as- Sahaba, no. 1100).

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Therefore ʿAlī (ra)‎‎’s view of Allāh, the universe, life, paradise, hell, the divine will and decree, the reality of man and his conflict with Satan were derived from the Noble Qurʾān and the guidance of the Prophet (pbuh).
ʿAlī (ra)‎‎’s (ra) view of the universe was based on the words of Allāh:

Ask them, (O Prophet), “How can you disbelieve in the One Who created the earth in two Days? How can you set up equals with Him? That is the Lord of all worlds. He placed on the earth firm mountains, standing high, showered His blessings upon it, and ordained (all) its means of sustenance—completing four Days exactly—for all who ask. Then He turned towards the heaven when it was ˹still like˺ smoke, saying to it and to the earth, ‘Submit, willingly or unwillingly.’ They both responded, ‘We submit willingly.’ So He formed the heaven into seven heavens in two Days, assigning to each its mandate. And We adorned the lowest heaven with (stars like) lamps (for beauty) and for protection. That is the design of the Almighty, All-Knowing.”
(Qurʾān 41: 9-12)

As for this life, no matter how long it lasts, it will inevitably come to an end, and no matter how great its conveniences and luxuries, they are in fact insignificant. Allāh says:

“And give them a parable of this worldly life. (It is) like the plants of the earth, thriving when sustained by the rain We send down from the sky. Then they ˹soon˺ turn into chaff scattered by the wind. And Allah is fully capable of ˹doing˺ all things. Wealth and children are the adornment of this worldly life, but the everlasting good deeds are far better with your Lord in reward and in hope.” (Qurʾān 18: 45-46)

Allāh tells the Muslim about the real‎ty of this life, and that it is not the place of honour, and that the hereafter is better and more lasting. This enables the one in whose heart love of Allāh and His Messenger is entrenched to give precedence to pleasing Allāh and His Messenger above anything else, even if the price of that is this world and everything in it.

Amir- ul-Mu’mineen ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ expressed this truth when he said:

“O world, try to deceive someone else. Are you trying to tempt me or attract me? No way! I divorce you irrevocably. Your time is short and you are insignificant. Alas! The provision is little, the journey is long and the way is lonely. (al-Fasawi, al- Ma’rifat wat- Ta’rīkh, 1/444)

His view of paradise was derived from the verses which describe it, and he became one of those of whom Allāh says:

“Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend [in charity in Allāh’s Cause] out of what We have bestowed on them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.)” (Qurʾān 32: 16-17)

His concept of hell was derived from the Noble Qurʾān, and this concept became a deterrent which prevented him from going astray from the laws of Allāh. Anyone who studies the life of ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ will see his deep understanding of how one should prepare to meet Allāh and the extent to which he should fear the wrath and punishment of Allāh.

His concept of the Divine will and decree was derived from the Book of Allāh and the teachings of the Messenger of Allāh. This concept was firmly entrenched in his heaa, and he understood its different categories as mentioned in the Book of Allāh. He was certain that the knowledge of Allāh encompasses all things:

“Neither you [O Muhammad] do any deed nor recite any portion of the Qurʾān, nor you [O mankind] do any deed [good or evil], hut We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord [so much as] the weight of an atom [or small ant] on the earth or in the heaven. Not what is less than that or what is greater than that but is [written] in a Clear Record.)”(Qurʾān 10: 61)

ʿAlī (ra)‎ was certain that Allāh‎ has decreed everything that is to be:

“Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before [them], and their traces and all things We have recorded with numbers [as a record] in a Clear Book.” (Qurʾān 36: 12)

He understood that Allāh’s will is inevitable and that His power is complete, and believed that Allāh is the Creator of all things.

This correct understanding and deep conviction of the reali‎ty of the Divine will and decree bore many fruits which were apparent in his life, as we shall see in this book. From the Noble Qurʾān, he understood the reali‎ty of his own self and of all people. He knew that their essence went back to two origins: the ancient origin when man was first created from clay, when he was formed and the soul was breathed into him, and the recent origin when they were created from a drop of sperm” (Musnad ahmed al-Mawasoo’ah al- Hadeethiyyah, no.1328)

ʿAlī (ra)‎ understood that Allāh has created humans with His own hand, and honored them with a beautiful form and an upright posture. He has blessed them with wisdom, logic and discernment, and subjugated to them all that is in the heavens and on earth. Allāh favored human beings over much of His creation, and honored them by sending the Messengers to them. The most wondrous manifestation of this divine honour towards humankind was that He made them qualified to receive His love and good pleasure, which could he attained by following the Prophet (pbuh), who called people to Islam so that they might live a good life in this world and attain eternal bliss in the hereafter. Allāh (swt) says:

“Whoever works righteousness – whether male or female – while he [or she] is a true believer [of Islamic Monotheism] verily, to him We will give a good life [in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision], and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do [i.e. paradise in the hereafter].” (Qurʾān 16: 97)

Amir al-Mu’mineen ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ understood the true nature of the struggle between humans and satan. He knew that this enemy comes to them from before and behind, from their right and from their left, and whispers to them, tempting them to commit sin and stirring up their desires. He used to seek the help of Allāh against his enemy Iblees, and he prevailed over him throughout his life, as we see & as we study his biography.

He learned from the story of Adam and Satan, as mentioned in the Qurʾān, that Adam was the origin of humanity, that the essence of Islam is absolute obedience to Allāh, and that man is vulnerable to falling into sin. From the story of Adam’s sin, he learned the necessity of putting one’s trust in Allāh, the importance of repentance and praying for forgiveness in the life of the believer, the necessity of keeping away from envy and arrogance, and the importance of speaking in the best manner to one’s companions, because Allāh says:

“And say to My slaves [i.e. the me believers of Islamic Monotheism] that they should [only] say those words that are the best. [Because] Shaytan [Satan] verily, sows a state of conflict and disagreements among them. Surely, Shaytan [Satan] is to man a plain enemy.” (Qurʾān 17: 53)

He followed the path of the Messenger of Allāh in such a way that he purified his companions’ hearts ad souls by means of all kinds of acts of worship, and he trained them to follow the guidelines for manners and attitude that were laid out in the Qurʾān.

The status of the Noble Qurʾān in the view of ʿAlī‎ (ra)

Amir al-Mu’mineen ʿAlī (ra) lived his life with the Qurʾān reading it, memorising it, understanding it and acting in accordance with it. He used to say: “Whoever reads the Qurʾān and dies and enters hell, is among those who used to take the verses (or signs) of Allāh in jest” (Al- Albani, Irwa’ al- Ghadeel, 8/46)

He also used to say:

“Glad tidings to those who were the dearest of people to the Messenger of Allāh (As- Sunan al- Kubra,8/322)

ʿAlī Abi Taleb (ra) used to say:

“I did not think that anyone with any wisdom would sleep before reciting the last three verses of al-Baqarah. (Al- Mughni, 8/307)

maxresdefaultThis was directed towards the people of the Qurʾān. He said, describing the Noble Qurʾān and its great importance: “In the Book of Allāh, there are stories of those who came before you, foretelling what will happen after you and rulings on issues between you. It is serious and is not in jest. Whoever among the tyrants neglects it, Allāh will destroy him; whoever seeks guidance in anything else, Allāh will send him astray. It is the strong rope, the wise reminder, the straight path. It is the Book that whims and desires cannot distort and tongues cannot mispronounce. Its wonders never end, and the scholars never tire of it. Whoever quotes it speaks the truth, whoever acts upon it will be rewarded, whoever judges according to it will be just, and whoever calls people to it will be guided to a straight path.” (Al- Fatawa,28/336- 337; Minhaaj As- Sunnah, 6/83; ‘Abdul- Hameed ʿAlī (ra)‎‎: Khilafat ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ ibne Abi Talib, p.73)

Because of his great interest in the Qurʾān, ʿAlī (ra)‎ acquired a great deal of knowledge of it and its sciences. It was narrated that hesaid: “By Allāh, no verse of it was revealed but I know why it was revealed, when it was revealed and to whom it was revealed. My Lord has blessed me with a deep understanding and an eloquent,truthful tongue.”( Sunan sa’eed ibn Mansoor, 2/69, no 2083; al Mukhtasar min Kitaab al-Muwafaqah, p. 131)

And he said: “Ask me about the Book of Allāh, for there is no verse in it but I know whether it was revealed by night or by day, on the plains or in the mountain.” (Minhaaj as- Sunnah.6/42)

Ibn’Abdul- Barr narrated that ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ (4) was one of those who collected the Noble Qurʾān at the time of the Messenger of Allāh while the Messenger was still alive.(al-Mughni wash- Sharh al Kabeer, 11/66, 67)

At the end of his Life he said: “Ask me before you lose me.” (Ibn al- Qayyim: at- Turuq al- Hikmiyyah, p.48)

How ʿAlī‎ (ra) used to teach the Qurʾān

quran teachThat was when most of the other scholars among the Companions had died, and he was in Iraq. He was very keen to teach the Noble Qurʾān and the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) to the people, among whom there was a great deal of ignorance. They did not know much about the rulings of Islam, and ʿAlī (ra)‎‎ was keen to teach them the truth. He was the most knowledgeable of people of his time. This is an example of the devoted scholar who is eager to teach people the truth and train them to follow it addressing real life events that happened in the society in which he lived. It praised some actions and some people, warned against others and pointed out some mistakes. Some verses were revealed that recorded forever some of the exploits of Amir-ul-Mu’mineen ʿAlī‎ (ra) and other Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all).

“These two opponents [believers and disbelievers] dispute with each other about their Lord; then as for those who disbelieved, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured down over their heads. With it will melt [or vanish away] what is within their bellies, as well as [their] skins. And for them are hooked rods of iron [to punish them]. Every time they seek to get away there from, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and [it will be] said to them: ‘Taste the torment of burning! Truly, Allah will admit those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism] and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens underneath which rivers flow [in paradise], wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk.” (Qur’an 22: 19-23)

Bukhari narrated with a chain of narration from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib that he said:

“I will be the first one to kneel before the Most Merciful in a dispute on the Day of Resurrection.”

Qays ibn ‘Uhidah said: Concerning them the verse was revealed: “These two opponents (BeIievers and disbelievers) dispute with each other about their Lord.” He said: They are the ones who went forth for duels on the day of Badr: Hamzah, ‘Ali, Abu ‘Uhaydah, Shaybah ibn Rabee’ah, ‘Utbah ibn Rabee’ah and al-Waleed ibn ‘utbah. (Abdus Saleem as-Sulaimani:Al-Ijtihad Fil-Fiqh al-Islami, p. 145)

ʿAlī‎’s (ra) view of Jihad in the path of Allāh‎

The Qur’an confirmed the view of ʿAlī‎ (ra) that jihad is superior to maintenance of al-Masjid al-Haram. In al-Saheeh it is narrated that a man said: I would not care if I do not do any deed after becoming Muslim except maintaining al-Masjid al-Haram.To this, ʿAlī‎ ibn Abi Ṭālib said:

“Jihad for the sake of Allah is better than all of that.”

To this, ʿUmar ibn al-Khattāb, said: “Do not raise your voices at the mimbar of the Prophet (pbuh). When the prayer is over, I will ask him about that.”(al Qasim ibn Salam: al-Amwal, p. 57. Abdul Hameed ʿAlī‎. Khilafat ʿAlī‎ ibn Abi Talib, p. 75).
ʿUmar ibn al-Khattāb asked the Prophet (pbuh) that question, and Allāh‎ revealed the following verse:

“Do you consider the providing of drinking water to the pilgrims and the maintenance of Al-Masjid al-Harim [at Makkah] as equal to the worth of those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah? They are not equal before Allah. And Allah guides not those people who are the Zaalimoon [polytheists and wrongdoers]. Those who believed [in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism] and emigrated and strove hard and fought in Allah’s Cause with their wealth and their lives, are far higher in degree with Allah. They are the successful. Their Lord gives them glad tidings of mercy from Him, and His being pleased [with them], and of Gardens [paradise] for them wherein are everlasting delights. They will dwell therein forever. Verily, with Allah is a great reward.”
(Qur’an 9: 19-22)

Therefore, the Prophet (pbuh) told the companions that faith and jihad are better than maintaining the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, hajj and tawaf (Musnad Ahmad,1/149), and better than looking after the pilgrims. (Abdul Hameed ʿAlī‎. Khilafat Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 75)

Dasond, Mehmani, and the compassion of ʿAlī‎ (ra)

Verse 58:12 is often cited as ‘evidence’ by Ismāʿīli missionaries that payment of cash to Aga Khan is recommended by the Qurʾān.

“O you who believe! When you [want to] consult the Messenger [Muhammad] in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation” (Qur’an 58: 12)

It was narrated that when this verse was revealed:the Prophet (pbuh) said to ʿAlī‎ (ra): “Tell them to give in charity.”

ʿAlī‎ (ra) said: “O Messenger of Allah, how much?”

He said: “A dinar.” ʿAlī‎ (ra) said: “They cannot afford it.”

He said: “Half a dinar.”

ʿAlī‎ (ra) said: “They cannot afford it.”

He said: “How much?” ʿAlī‎ (ra) said: “Gold equal to the weight of a grain of barley.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Ali: “You are a man of little wealth (so you are speaking on the basis of what you have).”

Then Allah revealed the words:

“Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation [with him]? If then you do it not, and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] perform salah and give zakah.” (Qur’an 58: 13)

As mentioned above, the earlier quoted verse of 58:12 is often misquoted by Ismāʿīli missionaries to justify the payment of dasond, mehmani and majis membership fee (all forms of cash payment to Jamatkhanas). Whereas the context of revelation makes it clear that not only did the Prophet (pbuh) recommend to pay this money in charity, but he actually said that to none other but ʿAlī‎ (ra). Moreover, if someone did not have the capacity to pay, then a simple prayer would suffice.

Aga Khan and Rose Witchestein
Karim Aga Khan with Rose Witchestein. (Courtesy: Hola Magazine)

As opposed to this, Aga Khan collects and plunders from his followers of the Ismāʿīli community, creates non-governmental organizations that collect government grants from United Nations and Canadian government, and has built a business empire for himself. How close is this approach to the approach of the Ahl al-Bayt and that of ʿAlī‎ (ra)?

Esotericism in the Ismāʿīlī Tradition Part III: The Antagonism between Islam and Ismāʿīlīsm

Esoterism in the Ismaili Tradition Part III Cover

Esoterism in the Ismāʿīlī Tradition Part III: The Antagonism between Islam and Ismāʿīlīsm

Continuing from the works cited from al-Sijistani’s works, we continue by quoting from another source on Ismāʿīlī bāṭenism or esotericism. Following are refereces from Dr. Marakem in his book Philosiphical Significance of the Imām in Ismāʿīlīsm.

“Knowing the imām is the perfection of īmān (Reference: M.K. Husayn (ed.) Al-Majalis al-Mustansiriyya, Cairo. p. 25). Thus, the Mu’min is to the Ismāʿīlīs he who believes and obeys the Imām. It follows that the belief in the Imām is the axis around which revolves the whole of the Ismāʿīlī creed. The author of Al-Majalis al-Mustansiriyya says that knowing the imām is the perfection of īmān. Thus, the mu’min is to the Ismāʿīlīs he who believes and obeys the Imām. It follows that the belief in the imām is the axis around which revolves the whole of the Ismāʿīlī creed.”

The above author also testified that faith on imām is everything – without the need for believing in Allāh, the Qur’ān or the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The author also says that:

“In other words this Will is God’s word that He willed. Now this word, in order to realize itself in this world must be manifested to man. In other words, this Will is God’s word that He willed. Now this word, in order to realize itself in this world must be manifested to man. In other words this Will is God’s word that He willed. Now this word, in order to realize itself in this world must be manifested to man.”

The author explains above that the word of Allāh is equivalent to Allāh himself and requires to be manifested in the form of a physical man. The author also mentions that:

“Proof (burhān) and manifest light (nur-e-mubin) are also interpreted allegorically to denote the Imām. Proof (burhān) and manifest light (nur-e-mubin) are also interpreted allegorically to denote the Imām roof (burhān) and manifest light (nur-e-mubin) are also interpreted allegorically to denote the Imām.  Proof (burhān) and manifest light (nur-e-mubin) are also interpreted allegorically to denote the Imām.”

In bāṭeni taʾwīl, the terms of noor and burhān are equivalent to the Imām.

“Then al-Kirmani proceeds to show that the act of Origination (ibda) is not apart from the Originator (God).  It is only an aspect of Him. He says:” (18)

Reference: Al-Kirmani, Rahat al-aql, p.73.

“After that, al-Kirmani goes on to show that the result of the act too, i.e. that which was originated (al-mubda al-awwal) is the same as the Originator and the Origination. Al-Kirmani says: (19)”   (ibid., p.73. Al-Kirmani, Rahat al-aql. p.73.)

The author explicitly mentions that origination is the creation and the originator and creator are identical and are the same.

“the Originator i.e. God, the Originated, i.e. the First Intellect, and the act of Origination are one. Thus, we have three hypostases of a trinity, three real and distinct subsistences in one undivided essence of God. This is obviously very close to the Christian belief in the Trinity and might reveal the Christian influence on the bāṭeni movement in Islam.”

Hence it is called the Second Intellect (al-aql ath-thani). Also it is called the Soul of the First Intellect, (22) and the Universal Soul (an-nafs al-kulliyya).”

Reference: See Masa’il majmu’a, in Gnosis-Texte der Ismāʿīlīten, ed. by R. Strothmann. Gottingen, 1955, p. 25.

1. The Proclaimer (an-natiq); his function is to proclaim the revelation (at-tanzil) 1. The Proclaimer (an-natiq); his function is to proclaim the revelation (at-tanzil)

2. The Foundation (al-asas); his function is to interpret the revelation (at-ta’wil); he is so called because he is the foundation of the inward knowledge (ilm al-batin)

3. The Imām; he carries on this inward knowledge and leads the community.

However in Nizārī Ismāʿīlīsm the imām occupies a higher rank than that given to him in most Fatimid works. He is considered higher than the nāţiq.

“As we have seen above, God’s word must in order to realize itself in this world, be manifested to man. The Imām who is the guide of the believers (those who comply with God’s Word) is therefore the embodiment of this Word. He is God’s Word manifested. The Imām, therefore, must always be present (muqim) in this world in order to guide the believers. In order to show that this Word of God must always be manifested in this world.

The Word of God, as was shown above, is the First Intellect or the First Originated Being (29). It follows that the Imām is the First Intellect manifested in this world. Consequently, the Imām is to the World of Religion (alam ad-din) what the First Intellect is to the Intelligible World.”

Reference: See also Sami Makarem, “Al-amr al-ilahi wa mafhumuhu fil-aqida al-isma’iliyya” (The divine Amr and its concept in the Ismāʿīlī creed), al-abhath, vol.1 (1967), pp.3 ff. See also Sami Makarem, “Al-amr al-ilahi wa mafhumuhu fil-aqida al-isma’iliyya” (The divine Amr and its concept in the Ismāʿīlī creed), al-abhath, Vol. 1 (1967).

“I have shown above that the Ismai’ilis consider their Imām to be the embodiment of God’s Will or Word. He is, therefore, the First Intellect manifested in this world. Adam (31) was the first to be entrusted with that Word or Will, i.e. with the Imāmate”.

(31) Al-Hamidi, Kanz al-walad, in a microfilm in my possession fol. 337.

“In other words the person of the Imām would be the embodiment of God’s Word which is the First Intellect or Origination as it was mentioned above. Thus, he is God’s Nasut, or manifestation; or, in other words, he is God as He appears to mankind. Whereas al-Lahut is God qua God, as He is in Himself.”

“In other words the person of the Imām would be the embodiment of God’s Word which is the First Intellect or Origination as it was mentioned above. Thus, he is God’s Nasut, or manifestation ; or, in other words, he is God as He appears to mankind. Whereas al-Lahut is God qua God, as He is in Himself.”

“Ali says O, Salman and Jundub, I bring humanity to life and make them die, I create them, and nourish them…”

Reference: (34) W. Ivanow, The rise of the Fatimids, Oxford, 1942, pp.73-76 of the Arab text.

“Al-Kirmani’s assertion  that the Imām is to the Ismāʿīlīs the human manifestation of God, or God’s Will manifested (an-Nasut). As for the Lahut, i.e. God as He is in Himself, He cannot be grasped or comprehended. The Nasut is an evidence (hujja) of the Lahut. Al-Mu’ayyad fi d-Din days about the Imām al-Mustansir: (36)”

Reference: (36) M.K. Husayn (ed.), Diwan al-Mu’ayyad fi d-Din, Cairo, 1949, pp.227.

“Jafar ibn Mansur al-Yaman in his book Sar’ir an-Nutaqa, says: (37) “It is related that  Abu Dharr said, ‘I have heard the commander of the Faith say: I am the face of God that He mentioned in His saying ‘Wither so ever you turn, there is the face of God.’ (Sura 11, 109).”

Reference: (37) M.K. Husayn (ed.), Diwan al-Mu’ayyad fi d-Din, Cairo, 1949, p.81 of the preface.

In another poem, al-Mu’ayyad says about al-Mustansir: (38)

“Your face is the luminous face of God, And your light is as a veil to His light.”

Thus, the Imām to the Ismāʿīlīs is God manifested. He is the Word of God and His Will, Thus, the Imām to the Ismāʿīlīs is God manifested. He is the Word of God and His Will.

“He is consequently higher than the Prophet. Al Muayyad made this clear when he differentiated between Nubuwwa (Prophethood) and Imāma (Imāmate). The position of Nubuwwa or Risala, he said, is the office of Trustees (istida), while that of the Imāma is the office of Permanence (istiqrar). (40)”   Reference : (40) M. K. Husayn (ed)., Diwan al-Mu’ayyad, p.80, quoting from al-Mu’ayyadiyya, Vol. 1, p. 68.

“It follows that Muhammad is considered by the Ismāʿīlīs to be inferior ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Imām.”  In his esoteric work Zahr al-Ma’ani, Idris Imad ad-Din, speaking about Ali, says: (41) “… And this his position was exactly the same as that of Al Ima al-Qa’im bi Amrillah with regard to al-Mahdi.”

Reference: (41) W. Ivanow, Rise of the Fatimids, p.78 of the Arabic text.

“Being the Word of God, the Imām is, therefore, to the Isma’ilis as the Qur’ān is to the Orthodox Muslims. He is the ever living guide, the “up-to-date” word of God, so to speak. As there are some Qur’ānic verses which abrogate others, so the Imām can abrogate what was said previously. His word is God’s Word, and his legislation is God’s Legislation., while Ali was Mustaqarr.”

Reference: (44) Wilferd Madelung, “Das Imāmat inder frühen Ismāʿīlītischen Lehre”, Der Islam, 1961, vol. 37, pp.78-79.

“Being the Word of God, the Imām is, therefore, to the Isma’ilis as the Qur’ān is to the Orthodox Muslims. He is the ever living guide, the “up-to-date” word of God, so to speak. As there are some Qur’ānic verses which abrogate others, so the Imām can abrogate what was said previously. His word is God’s Word, and his legislation is God’s Legislation., while Ali was Mustaqarr.”

Reference: (44) Wilferd Madelung, “Das Imāmat inder frühen Ismāʿīlītischen Lehre”, Der Islam, 1961, vol. 37, pp.78-79.

Below are a few excerpts from Shish Fasal also called Rawashana’i-Nama by Nasir Khusraw Persian text translated by W. Ivanow. Ismāʿīlī Society Series B6, published for the Ismāʿīlī Society by  E. J. BRILL, Oude Rijn; 33a, Leiden. Holland.

“These four letters (with the help of which the word Allāh is written) He intended as symbols for four principles (hadd), – two spiritual (ruhani) and two material (jismani), [10] by which the oneness (wahdaniyyat) of God can be proved. One of them is an alif (letter A) which is a straight line, to which all letters can be joined, while it does not join any letter. All letters have developed (?) From it (az u tarbiyat yafta and), because all letters that exist from curved (junbanida) lines. The alif symbolizes the ‘Aql-i Kull from which all the spiritual and material entities have received existence, and all are connected (paywasta) with it, while it itself in its power depends on nothing, being above everything.”

‘The next is the letter lam (L) which consists of a line the lower part of which is drawn forward. (Thus it) possesses length and width, like a surface (sath). It resembles alif but all letters are joined to it, and it itself joins various letters. The lam symbolizes the Nafs-i Kull with which on all sides both the spiritual and material entities are connected, and which resembles the ‘Aql just as the lam resembles the alif.”

“The third letter is (also) a lam, similar to that preceding one. It is, however, equal to only half of the degree (importance) of the alif. It symbolizes the Natiq who all sides is connected with the Nafs-i Kull [11] and receives support (ta’yid) from it in his organization (ta’lif) of the system (or world) of religion, which is the “third world” (suwwum ‘alam).”

“The first world is the world of spiritual (latif) entities, the second is the material (kathif) world, and the third is the world of religion. The Natiq occupies in the last one the position of the ‘Aql, just as the second lam (in the word Allāh) resembles the alif.”

“The fourth letter in it (i.e. in Allāh) is ha (H) which symbolizes the material world, possessing length, width and breadth. It occupies the fourth place (daraja) from the alif, and is a circle in which (one) end (of the line) is brought down to meet the other end. It symbolizes the Asas which is connected with the Natiq, receiving from the latter spiritual support (ta’yid) by the power of the Nafs-i Kull in his (task of) the explanation of [12] the shari’at. This is just like the world which has length, width and height and reveals (sharh-i chiz-ha hami birin arad) various matters such as minerals, plants, animals and foodstuffs for the bodies of men. The Asas brings back the souls of the faithful (mu’minan) to the recognition of the oneness of God (shinakht-i tawhid) and the interpretation of the shari’at (in its relation to) the higher world (‘alam-i ‘ulwi), so that ultimately creation may re-join its source (awwal), like (the line in the) letter ha, which is a circle, whose ends are joined together.

(All of the above from Fasal 1 of Shish Fasal)

“The ta’wil of the “face” is the Imām, because the mu’min is recognized by his Imām,”

(Ref: Fasal 3 of Shish Fasal)

“It is just as the ‘Alawis, i.e. descendants of ‘Ali, who are at present in the world (as living) souls, and those who were before them, or will come after them, are all the substance (dhat) of the soul of the Commander of the Faithful ‘Ali [40] which contained them potentially. But so long as they were not connected with their bodies, it was impossible to take notice of or count them.”

(Ref: Fasal 3 of Shish Fasal)

 “in order that thy descendants, the Imāms, by the command of God, at their own time should [52] explain thy Book to people, bringing its meaning from the form (of the letter) of the Divine Revelation (tanzil) into that of the revelation of its inner sense (ta’wil) and spreading it in time amongst humanity. He, the Prophet, at the end of his life left the command to his descendants, who are the true Imāms, Imāman-i haqq, that they should convey to people its inner meaning; in order that thy descendants, the Imāms, by the command of God, at their own time should [52] explain thy Book to people, bringing its meaning from the form (of the letter) of the Divine Revelation (tanzil) into that of the revelation of its inner sense (ta’wil) and spreading it in time amongst humanity. He, the Prophet, at the end of his life left the command to his descendants, who are the true Imāms, Imāman-i haqq, that they should convey to people its inner meaning;”

(Ref: Fasal 5 of Shish Fasal)

Taʾwīl of kalima aṭ-ṭaiyibah

لا اله الا الله

محمد الرسول الله

This kalima is considered the key to paradise. This key has four components: Universal Intelligence, Universal Soul, the Speaking Prophets and the founder Asas followed by hereditary Imāms. This is the same thing we have studied before.

But, at the same time the operator is required and this operator in Ismāʿīlism is the Imām as all the four Roots/Hudud/Well Springs are merged in the Imām. Therefore, the key is the imām, consequently the Imām himself is the Kalima Tayaba. Result is: the Kalima can be reconstructed as: La Imām Illa Imām az-zaman, or more precisely La Ilaha illa Imām e zaman.

Adopted from (1) Wellsprings of Wisdom By Sajistani Translated by Paul E Walker and (2) Hamare Ismāʿīlī Mazhab ki Haqiqat aur Iska Nizam by Dr Zahid Ali.

When Prophet asked Allāh that I can have Your didar/visual glimpse. Allāh ordained that no human being can see Him and asked the Prophet Mūsa that look at the mountain near about, Allāh’s Tajjali was on the mountain and it was turned into dust and small stones.  Keeping in mind, this teaching of Allāh, how there can be a human being consisting of bones and flesh and other tissues can be Allāh. Therefore this Ismāʿīlī taʾwīl of kalima at-ṭaiyibah leads nowhere and lacks sense.

(Amiru’l-mu’minin), the one who subdued tyrants, the one who was the ascetic amongst ascetics, the devotee amongst devotees, the mihrab of the righteous and the qibla of those who recite the prayers of the Truth (namaz-guzaran-i Haqiqat), ‘Ali Murtada.

(Ref: Fasal 1 of Shish Fasal)

Taʾwīl of Qibla in Ismāʿīlism

Qibla is a cubical structure in Mecca which Qur’ān says Becca. Every Muslim, while praying must face towards this Qibla. This is obligatory and fundamental requirement, in the absence of which Salat/Namaz cannot be offered. Those who do not do face Qibla; their Iman/Faith is not according to Islam. And Allāh does not accept their worship.

Present day Nizari Ismāʿīlīs do not face towards Qibla in Mecca/Becca. But they do not offer ṣalāt but recite a shirk-infested duʿāʾ. Therefore, the Jamatkhanas are the only proclaimed places of ‘Islamic’ worship, which are not constructed in the direction of the Qibla in Mecca. They do not have any Masjid as all other Muslims have that. There is no adhān the call for prayers, nor any ṣalāt therein.

Their argument is that the structure that is in Mecca is just a small structure of black stone and a door, therefore, the true Qibla is the body of Imām which harbors the Noor of Allāh; therefore, the members of this bāṭeni creed face towards a photo/portrait of Imām while praying in Jamatkhanas or otherwise praying at home.

ʿAlī, the man god for Ismāʿīlis was strictly regular with his prayers i.e. ṣalāt facing the Qibla in Mecca. All the following hereditary Imāms have done the same. Who were the “Ismāʿīli Gods” worshipping? How is that the Imām can offer the ṣalāt and that the follows of the Imām, i.e., the Ismāʿīlis have a different prayer for invoking their Imām who they consider as God?

Second questionable action of Ismāʿīlis is the recitation of Qurʾān in the Ismāʿīlī duʿāʾ. Ismāʿīlīs have no belief in the Qur’ān whatsoever. Ivanow writes

Second thing is the recitation of Qur’ān in the Ismāʿīlī Du’a. Ismāʿīlīs have no belief in Qur’ān and they do not possess one. When W. Ivanow compiled the Index of Ismāʿīlī Literature, a Bibliographical Survey of Ismāʿīlī Literature, he referenced every book used in the Ismāʿīlī creed and theology, but did not name the Qur’ān in that list. The actually gave a reason that Ismāʿīlīs do not believe in the ẓâhiri Qur’ān and their belief in the taʾwīl cannot be published.

Ismāʿīlī prayers, or the Holy Duʿāʾ as they call it, was in Gujarātī and Khojki languages and it was said that it was formulated by Pir Sadardin a long time ago. In 1945, when Aga Khan III was in Bombay to celebrate his diamond jubilee of his Imāmat, I was there for the deedar (visual glimpse) of the imām. It was there when he uttered this farman:

Ismāʿīlīs have no written book for Hidāyah/ Guidance but they have living Imām for their Hidāyah Guidance.

Reference: Farman No. 530, dated 29, December 1945 at Wadi in Bombay

This same imām introduced a new duʿāʾ in Arabic and ordered to recite daily three times in Jamatkhanas. I was shocked to find that every part of all the six parts begins with a verse of the Qur’ān. On the contrary in the old Gujarātī and Khojki duʿāʾ, there were no verses from the Qur’ān whatsoever. It was a huge leap from Ismāʿīlīs having ‘no book but the imām’ to picking up many verses from the Qur’ān.

Was the masoom imām wrong in 1945? Was his claiming of having aql-e-kul incorrect as well?

Earlier in this article, it was evident how the taʾwīl of the word Allāh has been twisted to portray the imām as the deity who should be approached, invoked and worshiped.

The evil Ismāʿīlī missionaries first hijacked philosophical canvas presented by Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, interwoven there in the concept of Philosophical king, developed into ideal/perfect man by Aristotle and then after the Universal Intellect and Universal Soul of the Plotinus. Then this canvas was mercilessly mutated, mutilated and cut through with the knife called taʾwīl, to evolve the imaginary concept of Imāmat, planted into heredity of ʿAlī bin Abī Ṭālib. This is an example how a pious name of Ali is linked to this evident misguidance and concepts which are antagonistic to the basic concept of Islam. Not only these concepts are antagonistic to Islam but they are also appearing to be filled in with animosity.

Let us remember that in regards to takmil-e-deen, the will and Pleasure of Omnipotent Allāh unfolded by making Islam complete, perfect, flawless, faultless, divine, eternal, easy to understand, protected by Allāh  and suited to the demands of all times and climes for the humanity et-large. Muhammad the Blessed Apostle of Allāh, faithfully delivered the Message vouchsafed to him and he strived and practiced with all of his might to raise the Final Ummah, which could discharge the responsibilities ordained by Allāh and exemplified by the Holy Apostle. This Ummah is entrusted the charge of spreading the message of Islam. And this Ummah has been entrusted to safeguard the Qur’ān in its pristine purity against all deviations, innovations and to guide the humanity on the right path. Therefore, there is neither any need of a new Divine revelation nor any Prophet nor any personality in whatever name is needed.

I had submitted that a powerful antagonism exists between Islam and Ismāʿīlī taʾwīl concept. Let me elucidate this point:

1. First Antagonism: The Qur’ān

According to the Qur’ān, Ahadis and other Islamic literature, the Qur’ān is revealed by Allāh to the Apostle through Gabriel and there is no two opinions about this. Qur’ān is open and easy to understand and is meant for each and every human being till the end of this world for aakhirah.

In bāṭeni imāmi Ismāʿīlī creed. Qur’ān has two types of meaning viz. an evident one and other secret one. According to Ismāʿīlī bāṭeni taʾwīl the Qur’ān is authored by Apostle in ẓâhiri sense only and is liable to secret bāṭeni meaning by the Asas/Imām. This secret meaning can only be provided to a selected small group by the Imām.

2. Second Antagonism: Risālat or Prophethood

According to Qur’ān, Allāh revealed the Qur’ān to blessed Apostle by the angel Gaḇrîʼēl in the form of wahi in a time span of about 23 years. This blessed Apostle of Allāh faithfully conducted his life according to the hidāyah/Guidance contained therein. He invited the people to this hidāyah and a final Ummah emerged entrusted with this guidance and invite people to this hidāyah till the day of recon. This means that every Muslim has to adopt and conduct his/her life accordingly and invite the people to this hidāyah. This is the bounden duty for each and every Muslim. This means that the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the blessed Apostle shall be the only law or sharīʿah till the day of recon.

In the bāṭeni Ismāʿīlī creed there is nothing like final Ummah. Here the Imām has taken up the work to propagate the bāṭeni teachings, alone or along with his Hujjat/Pir. Every Imām has his separate Ummah.

3. Third Antagonism: Allāh

In ʾIslām, Allāh is Hayul, Qayum and is ever functioning as suggested in to all the sifati/attributive names of Allāh without any break since infinite eternally. Everything between earth and skies belongs to Allāh. He hears the prayer and answers means decides immediately.

In the bāṭeni Ismāʿīlī creed the man god Ismāʿīlī Imām though, claims manifestation of divinity and all the sifati/attributive names and their functions, every Imām is supposed to be from the lineage of ʿAlī bin Abī Ṭālib,

4. Fourth Antagonism: Ma’ad/Akhirah:

In the blessed Qur’ān there is vivid description of the judgement day, heaven and hell. This is well-known and does not require further elaboration.

We have so far not touched upon the taʾwīl of heaven and hell. In Ismāʿīlīsm, the taʾwīl of heaven is knowledge hell is ignorance. This means that the knowledge or the acquaintance and the love for the imām is the only means to salvation and does not matter whether you have committed heaps of sins and crimes.

Here Salvation means that after the death if the follower has achieved the marifat of imām then his or her soul will migrate into the soul of the imām and this is Heaven. Otherwise all the other souls are damned.

This antagonism in the all the four foundation pillars, produced by the taʾwīl of the word Allāh, is heresy and their doctrine is heretical. This is dissent, diversion deviation, profanation and sacrilegious.

The hidāyah of Allāh in the Qur’ān in Surah al-Ikhlas (The Unity) – Chapter 112, Verses 1-4 is simple and straight-forward:

Say, He is Allāh the one Alone.

Allāh, the Universally Besought.

He begets not nor is He Begotten.

Nor is there to Him comparable anyone.

It is well-known that the wonders of Qur’ān will never end. This chapter is the example. Think of a very dark night and the darkness is such that one cannot see one’s own hand. But if a small candle is lighted, total darkness will cease to exist.

Say, He is Allāh the one Alone. Allāh, the Universally Besought. (112:1-2)

If the word Ahad is properly understood, the darkness of ignorance, taʾwīl fabricated under word Allāh, where, the imaginary, notional image of the man god Imām is emerged from the false interpretation of the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus, and mercilessly mutated, mutilated and cut to evolve a tailor-made imaginary icon of the man god Imām, will immediately vanish.

This chapter contains three names of Allāh viz. Allāh, Ahad and Samad, the last two are sifati/attributive ones. This whole Sūrah is the explicit and it is easily understood and explains Sifati name of Allāh: Ahad. Therefore, let us discuss it.

Ahad means Eternal one i.e. when there was nothing He was when everything will perish, He will be there. Can anyone claim or gain such position. Obliviously there is none. For all the Sifati/Attributive with prefix al are in the same unique position.

Let us now take as-Samad, everybody universally seeks Him for all needs, but He is not dependent to anyone or anything.  He hears the invocations of all and decides accordingly.  Ahad also contains this attribute.

Let us understand one more example: The attributive name of Allāh Al-Khaliq/Creator: Allāh is the creator of all living and material things. None else can create anything. Does Allāh need any help of anyone?  Does He need any partner to help? Answer is obviously no. Ahad includes this attribute also. Any claimant of the slightest creation is a liar, impersonator and bluffer.

The angels, the stars, the sun and the moon all are created by The Creator. Created ones are not similar to creator and any claim to divinity is null and void.

Lam Yalid, walam youlad. He begets not nor is He Begotten (112:1-2)

The door of Shirk is closed for many prevalent shirks. The false belief of Yahud that Uzair is the son of Allāh, in the light of this surah is negated in such a way that there remains no argument or any type of justification.

Similarly, Christian belief in trinity and division of divinity/elahiyat in three parts viz. Father, Son and Holy Ghost is highly prevalent these days. In the light of this sūrah there is no locus standi, nor any justification and the whole edifice of trinity crumbles down.

The Greek mythology and the gods and goddesses with different function are all human beings and born out of mothers’ wombs. Therefore, no one claim divinity; this is total diversion and deflection from the sirat al-mustaqim Islam.

In Indo-Pak subcontinent the Aryan/Hindu mythology is not different and similar to the Greek mythology with the same fate. But before the Aryan advent in the sub-continent there was pantheism where everything tangible; with life or not can be god; namely serpent/nag-dev &c. everything is created/makhluq that can never be a Khaliq.

Nor is there to Him comparable anyone. (112:4)

Now we’ll try to understand the placement of the Ismāʿīlī Bāṭeni creed’s hero the imām. This Imām is living human born out of a woman’s womb, therefore, in the light of this verse all the claims of his (imāmat) divinity are invalid, null and void and stand eliminated.

Heredity: Inheritance from the previous Imām is necessary, this also falls within the orbit of this verse and therefore, invalid, null and void. Detailed discussion of the inheritance is out of place in short article/essay like this.

But, I’ll like to invite your attention to the fact that: Allāh the Ahad is the provider of everything required for the sustenance of all the human beings and other creations, while, the Imām of the Ismāʿīlī Bāṭeni Creed exploits the unwary followers. How the present Imām exploits this situation to his personal monitory advantages,

Nor is there to Him comparable anyone.  Allāh is Ahad, then, how anything living or otherwise, created by him can have any sort of comparision?

In the next episode, we will look at clear Qur’ānic verses which are misinterpreted by Ismāʿīlī missionaries in the name of taʾwīl or esotericism to deceive the Ismāʿīlī community who are most of the time too busy to validate the far-fetched ideas of these Ismāʿīlī missionaries. May Allāh guide all of us to sirat al-mustaqeem.

Esotericism in the Ismāʿīli Tradition Part II: Tawil of Allah and the system of four roots

 

Esoterism in the Ismaili Tradition Part II Cover

Continuing our research into the deception of esotericism, let us go back to theological sources and find the definitions for both esotericism (the hidden reality) and exoterism (the external or the apparent).

Finding the Definition of Esotericism and Exotericism from Theological Sources

The definitions of exotericism (ẓâhir) and esoteric (bāṭen or taʾwīl) vary, the concepts are full of contradictions and many theologians have tried to explain this concept without using much reason and logic. The following important questions occur for while explaining the concept of taʾwīl :

1. What is taʾwīl or bāṭeni interpretation?
2. Who is entitled to provide taʾwīl or bāṭeni interpretations and what is the source of his authority?
3. To whom the taʾwīl or bāṭeni interpretation is provided?
4. What are the consequences of the answers to the above three questions?

Is Taʾwīl exclusive to Ismāʿīlīsm?

Every major world religion is tainted by esotericism. Thousands of books have been written on Christian esotericism which are of the view that Christianity is a mystery religion. The authors profess the existence and possession of certain esoteric doctorines or practices of which the general public is unaware, but which is understood by a small group of people. This is exactly how the Ismāʿīlīs view themselves as compared to the Muslim ummah.

In reality, Ismāʿīlīs have a conceited view that only the Ismāʿīlī creed is fortunate enough to have a living, divine Imām for the taʾwīl of the bāṭen of the ẓâhiri sharīʿah and that the Muslims have no such ‘facility’.

The synonyms for the word taʾwīl are esoteric, bāṭen, secret, sacred, ramz, reality (haqeeqat), wisdom (hikmah), gnostic and spiritual interpretation and edicts of the Imām.
The salient arguments raised by Dr. Zahid Ali, in his book Hamare Ismaili Mazhab ki Haqeeqat aur Iska Nizam “The Origins of our Ismaili Creed and its System” can be summarized in the following table:

 

ẓâhir

Taʾwīl

1. Ẓâhir is a dream. Taʾwīl is the interpretation of the ẓâhir dream.
2. Muslims have to believe in the apparent (ẓâhir) since they do not have the miracle of taʾwīl or bāṭen Taʾwīl is exclusive to Ismāʿīlīs and no one else has it.
3. Custom or traditions must be followed in the ẓâhir. There is no apparent or ẓâhir sharīʿah, no customs and no traditions are necessary to follow.
4. Ẓâhir lacks spirituality and depends on mandatory adherence to sharīʿah Bāṭen is spiritual where the effort to follow thesharīʿah is not required.
5. Ẓâhir is material and lacks spirituality Taʾwīl  is virtual image and is totally spiritual
6. Ẓâhiri sharīʿah is the peel of the fruit Taʾwīl  is the reality and is the kernel of the fruit
7. Ẓâhiri knowledge is full of contradictions Bāṭen is free of contradictions and defects.
8. Ẓâhir is mere blind following (taqlid) of a person and devoid of any reason of knowledge. Bāṭen is enlightenment and based on knowledge, reason and of permanent nature.
9. ẓâhir is shirk and kufr. Bāṭen is real tawhid
10. According to Pir Nasir Khusraw those who do not recognize or deny the IsmāʿīlīImāms are donkeys and dogs. According to Pir Nasir Khusraw those who recognize and follow the Ismāʿīlī Imāms are real believers

 Taʾwīl of the word “Allāh”

Now let me start with the taʾwīl of the word Allāh. Paul E. Walker has written two books on him: one on the life and works of Abu Ya‘qub al-Sijistani and other the translation and commentary of the book Wellsprings of Wisdom.

Using Wellsprings of Wisdom and wajh-e-deen by Nāsir Khusraw, the following is what is the taʾwīl of the word Allāh:

The word Allah consists of four (4) letters viz (1) Alif, (2) Lam long, (3) Lam Short, and (4) Ha.

Each letter stands for or symbolizes an entity (had, plural hudood) viz:

  1. alif (ا ) for Universal Intelligence,
  2. laam (ل) longer for Universal Soul,
  3. laam (ل) shorter for Prophet/apostle,
  4. ha (ہ) for Asas followed by Imams.

Each one has special function to perform:

  1. Universal Intelligence here after to be referred as UI, functions as tayed    
  2. Universal Soul to be referred as US functions as tarkib
  3. Prophet/Apostle functions as talif and
  4. Asas functions as taʾwīl. These hudood are also called the roots of truth.
# Letter Stands for hudood / roots / wellsprings  fx Origin Certain elucidation Element
1 alif Universal Intelligence / U.I. / Preceder tayed Amr Allah To help the following hudood Fire
2 laam (long) Universal Soul / U.S. / Follower tarkib UI Creation of physical & spititual universe Air
3 laam (short) Apostle / Speaking Prophet /Natiq talif US To author or compile Qur’ān Water
4 ha Assas / Founder (followed by Imams) tawil UI + US To elucidate the Secret/bāṭenimeaning Earth

The following is mentioned by al-Sijistani, Wellsprings of Wisdom, p.7:

“The whole system is impressive, especially in its remarkable symmetry.  At the top is intellect. Intellect holds the highest rank of originated being, at the summit of all the knowledge. It is the beginning and final end of all the principles. God does not enter the system because He is utterly and unqualifiedly transcends it. God is beyond both being and nonbeing, outside of all relationship to anything in the cosmos, whether that thing is sublime or mundane. Therefore, the God is not technically a “source’ or “wellspring” of knowledge, although the origin of that knowledge is an origination. As knowledge, however, the originating, and even the identity of God Himself, is nothing other than intellect. Knowledge is intellect: a simple tautology.”

Note the absence of Allāh from this hierarchy, there is nothing but the Imām.

The following is mentioned on p. 49:

“The Alif is the analogue of the Preceder, who is the well spring of divine inspiration; the first lam is the analogue of the Follower who is the wellspring of Physical composition; the second lam is analogue of the Speaking-Prophet, who is the wellspring of scriptural compilation; and the round spherical ha is the analogue of the Founder, who Is the well spring of interpretation.”

Note that the four letters in the word Allāh are the four roots or wellsprings or Hudod.

“As in the belly of the Earth, Water, Air and the Fire are all concealed, so likewise in the person of the founder (Asas/Imam), the divine inspiration of the preceder, the providence of the follower, and instructions of the Speaking- Prophet are merged together.” (ibid., p. 47)

Note that the system of all these four roots is merged in Assas and his progeny Imāms.

“Because there is no other intellect, it cannot be affirmed to be in another intellect, it follows then that intellect does not corrupt. And this is as God says, “all things perish, except His face.” (al-Qur’ān 28:88). The Preceder is God’s face, which does not perish and it is not destroyed. God has indeed removed from Himself all relationships. (ibid., p. 58)

Note that in Universal: the first Root is the face of God. Imām-e-Hazir which means that the Imām is the face of Allāh. The following is provided as a definition of the word ta’til:

“The Arabic word translated here is a “stripping away positive attributes” is in one place ‘mu’atil and the other ta’til. These are technical terms that cannot be adequately translated with adding explanatory language.” (ibid., p. 146)

It is very important to know that there is no position of Allāh in the bāṭeni Ismāʿīlī hierarchy. Everything which Allāh stands for, translates into the Imām, leaving no place for Allāh in the hierarchy. Therefore this bāṭeni interpretation implies that all power of the supreme creator, Allāh are vested into the Imām – so much so that Imām himself is Allāh. The following writings by al-Sijistani attest to this. In the same book (p. 27), he writes:

“God is not a knowable existent, even by mystical means. God does not respond to temporal appeals, but rather has already put in place existing structure, a divine structure, a divine hierarchy that rules the cosmos. It is this structure that must answer to the individual’s query; it contains the sources of all knowledge, divine and otherwise. Were this not so, he would have no order and would be incomprehensible, a mere chaos. The roots of certainty are not thus vague wisps of imagination and fantasy but the hard realities of scientific regulations and laws.”

Also, on p. 30, al-Sijistani writes:

“Significantly, God is not a member of this structure, nor for that matter is the divine command by which He initiates it and brings it into being from nothing.”

“The four roots are each responsible for one of these four functions. Intellect controls ta’yid; it inspires. Soul composes in the sense of tarkib it is the animating force that combines the physical elements in the natural universe into being that move and act. The Speaking –prophet, similarly, composes scripture and creates law, the act of ta’lif. The Founder interprets (provides taʾwīl of) what the other composes.” (ibid., p. 31)

Note: Here are the functions of the four Roots/Hudood/Wellsprings.

“With respect to God, more needs to be said. One area not yet explained is the role of revelatory knowledge. In a sense, al-Sijistani dares deny the connection between God and being because he believes that institution of root sources assumes knowledge of God in and of itself. Humans derive truth from these sources and only from them. God’s position is properly defined only by them and not by extra-systematic perceptions or personal fantasy. Therefore the most accurate understanding of God – in fact, the only valid means to it – is contained in the law and in the pronouncements of the Imam. What the law says is how God is to be known. This is, in the end, a total affirmation of Islam and its teaching of God. It is likewise, in this case, not an appeal to reason or rationality at all. Connecting God, reason is caught between attempted affirmation and repeated denial; it is thus impotent in this one respect.” (ibid., page 94)

The notable point from al-Sijistani’s writing is that there is no Allāh in the Ismāʿīlī hierarchy or the system of four Roots of Truth or four Hudood. What can be the reasons for this: The word Allāh can be only a symbol and each one of the letter can be a symbol for respective root of the truth viz Preceder, the Follower, Natiq Prophet and the Founder meaning Assa’s followed by Imams by heredity. And this is how a system of four roots of truths takes place to perform all the functions of Allāh.

As the word is only a symbol then this is a denial of Allāh; this is total Atheism. Therefore, whole of this system is out of the orbit of ʾIslām.

Denial of Allāh’s universal role in Ismāʿīlīsm

The doctrine of Ta’til says that Allāh is there but He has entrusted all His functions and attributes including and attributive (sifati) names to this system of four roots of truth. All the four roots are merged in the founder meaning Assa’s with following hereditary Imāms. This means that the present Imām is bestowed with all the functions of Allāh. Therefore, the Imām is de facto Allāh. This is therefore complete denial of Allāh’s active role in the universe. In Ismāʿīlīsm, Allāh himself has delegated absolutely everything to the Imām.

Ismāʿīlī history has shown that they have always tried to plant divinity in the Imāms through various means.

The Messenger is the ‘author’ of the Qur’ān in Ismāʿīlīsm

Now, let us consider the Qur’ān  in this system of four roots of truth or hudood. In this system it is not Allāh that revealed Qur’ān to the blessed Apostle Muhammad. According this Ismāʿīlī system the Apostle of Allāh is the author or compiler of the Qur’ān. This is the reason why Allāh has ordained in the Qur’ān to seek the protection of Allāh, before anyone begins to recite the Qur’ān. Allāh narrated in the Qur’ān, more than scores of times that He has revealed the Qur’ān to His Blessed Apostle. Now, should a person have faith in Allāh or these four roots of the so-called ‘truth’ of Ismāʿīlīsm?

This sort of propaganda was a powerful storm against Islam. The main point in this propaganda was that ʿAlī bin Abi Talib had deputed Salman Farsi as his Hujjat to reveal Qur’ān to Muhammad the Apostle even during the tenure of the final Prophet. The effect of this was to falsify (a) Allāh who reveals and (b) that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was not telling the truth. This is how the propagandists tried in vain to torpedo both pillars of Islam but Allāh did perfect His Islam. He took the cognizance and revealed in the following:

“When we send down one verse to elaborate the other and Allāh knows best what to send down, they say “you forge this Qur’ān yourself.” The fact is that most of them do not know the reality.

Tell them, “The Holy Spirit has brought it down piecemeal intact from my Lord so that He make firm the faith of those who have believed, and to show the Right Way, and to give good news, to those who surrender themselves to Allāh.

We know very well what they say about you: “surely a certain person teaches him.” But the person whom they allude speaks a foreign tongue, and this (Qur’ān) is in plain Arabic.

(Qur’ān Surah Nahl, Verses 101-103)

In the next episode, we will quote from other Ismāʿīlī sources and see further how the Imām is positioned above all else in Ismāʿīlīsm. We will quote references from  Dr. Marakem and al-Kirmani which are respected sources in Ismāʿīlī esotericism. May Allāh guide us all and enable us to practice ʾIslām as it was practiced by the Prophet (pbuh).

Esotericism in the Ismāʿīlī Tradition, Part I: Fragile Foundations

Esoterism in the Ismaili Tradition Part I Cover

After my previous article Takmil-e-Deen, a question was haunting my mind: If there is no place of the doctrine of Imamat in Islam, then what can be the origin of the prevailing doctrine of the Imamat?

Here I was caught in the wilderness of a novel doctrine: exoteric and esoteric concept. Here I quote Ivanow to show how difficult is this field:

In addition to these shortcomings of a purely individual nature, the text, in common with all works on haqaiq, presents much difficulty for understanding and interpretation because of the manner in which the argument suddenly leaps from philosophical matters into the field of theology, only to jump again into the sphere of mythology, Kabbalistic and other superstitious speculations, and so forth.

Source: Ivanov, English Translation of Shish Fasal by Nasir Khuraw

In my understanding the subject of taʾwīl, I had to toil much but Allāh blessed me to understand the concept of taʾwīl.

Four Preliminary Considerations

In this section, we will look at the preliminary considerations while exploring this subject which give us clear evidence of the fragile foundations of esoterism in the Nizari Ismaili creed.

Consideration #1: Lack of Evidence of taʾwīl in the Qur’ān

There is no indication in Holy and Divine Qur’ān that there is any point or narration or commands of the Qur’ān have any secrecy. On the contrary the Qur’ān teaches that:

i. Qur’ān is Ki’tab-e-Mubin that is the open book and no secret reservation.

ii. The Qur’ān is easy to understand. This is repeated in many places.

iii. The verses of the Qur’ān are also explained with similes and examples. This point has repeated at many places.

iv. The verses of the Quran are also explained through similitude or tashbih (plural tashbihāt) and can be easily understood.

The Qur’ān, the basic foundation of ʾIslām, is not philosophy. It is the guidance based on revelation by Allāh. Qur’ān is the complete eternal code of guidance and the complete eternal procedure code is in the form sunnah or the prophetic traditions. Every human being has to conduct his life according to these two sources, for this is the only route to salvation.

Consideration #2: Philosophical Foundations of Esoterism, tasawwuf and sufism

Both the system of batini interpretation and tasawwuf or sufism were seeded in the early third century Hijri, and nurtured in the fourth Hijri centuries. This means that both these systems came into existence after more than three centuries after the takmil-e-deen-e-Islam. Both these systems are based on philosophy. Therefore, as far as Islamic sufism is concerned, there is no word tasawwuf or sufism either in the Qur’ān, or in hadith, nor in the traditions of the companions, their next generation (tabieen) and the generation after them (taba tabieen). These words were adopted in the Arabic language in the late third or early fourth centuries Hijri, therefore these words have no ma’ada in Lugatul Quran.

Foundations of tasawwuf: The basis of tasawwuf is the doctrine of wahdat al-wujood and wahdat ash-shahood. Both these have origin in the Greek and Indian philosophies.

Foundations of bāṭenīyatThe basis of bāṭenīyat has its origins in the Greek doctrine of Universal Intelligence, Universal Soul from Plotinus and that of perfect person or Philosophical King of Plato and “Ideal Man” of Aristotle.

Consideration #3: Divine Wisdom or Human Wisdom?

The philosophers themselves did not mean any harm. The outcome of their thought process was placed publicly in the hands of the literary world. The only point which matters is this: Philosophy is human thinking and wisdom, while Qur’ān is divine and supreme wisdom. These two things cannot be compared. Different philosophers have different ideas of Allāh (or the creator), which will be explored in the next episodes of this article.

It is interesting to note that golden period of philosophy is about twelve centuries beginning from sixth century before Christ and about six centuries after the Christ. In this period very genius personalities produced much of the intelligent philosophies and many are referred to even today.

The important point that concerns us is the fact that Allāh blessed the Ummah and the humanity with the final Apostle Muhammad (pbuh) for all the time to come. This means that the origin of the final divine message final apostle of ʾIslām, perfection of the religion and the last ummah after the golden period of philosophy. The interesting point to note is this: There is no mention of any philosopher or any philosophy in the blessed Qur’ān. Human wisdom has very trivial importance, and the Divine wisdom of Allāh is the only source of guidance in the form of Qur’ān, the complete final and eternal code of life for the humanity and the method how to conduct our life in accordance with the sunnah of final Apostle.

Consideration #4: Inconsistent Application

The esoterians fail to consistently apply the doctrine of esoterism throughout the Quran. A prime example of this is Jihad which is referred to in the Qur’ān in two clear contexts: Fighting as well as struggle with the inner self. However, the concept of jihad in tasawwuf is only against one’s inner self (nafs). Therefore, they believe partly in the exoteric interpretation, while partly believe in esoteric interpretation without providing a sound basis of such inconsistency.

Concept of Jihad in the Nizari Ismāʿīlī creed: The concept of Jihad in the Nizari Ismāʿīlī creed at present is this: In the present era Ismāʿīlī Imām has no army but the notional benefit can be purchased on payment of five hundred rupees for five years service in the army, other categories are: nine hundred rupees for twelve years’ service and five thousand rupees for lifetime services in the Imam’s army.

In the next episode to this article, besides finding the definitions of esoterism and exoterism, we will analyze the taʾwīl and how it applied to the word Allāh, through the reference of the works of the noted Ismāʿīlī philosopher Abu Ya‘qub al-Sijistani.