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Ismailite

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  1. Now witth respect to the Aga Khan - so far nobody here has been judging him or the Ismailis by the Aga Khan's words and actions. instead everyone is merely repeating anti-Ismaili tropes they have heard second hand or from propaganda. The Aga Khan's Imamat is based on his lineage from the prior Imams and the nass he has received from the prior Imams. The Proof of the Aga Khan's Imamat is well documented here - which includes a collation of all the third party historical sources validating the Aga Khan's unbroken lineage from Ali b. Abi Talib: https://ismailignosis.com/2016/07/09/the-aga-khans-direct-descent-from-prophet-muhammad-historical-proof/ Now, it is equally important to judge the Aga Khan's Imamat based on its actual merits and proofs. It is also important to be well informed of what the Aga Khan's interpretation of Islam actually is. As it happens, there are over 500 speeches, writings and interviews of the Aga Khan available to read online for free. Extracts from these 500 documents on specific subjects - like Islamic law, tradition and modernity, Imamat, etc. have been compiled in this summary document. Anyone who wants to criticize the Aga Khan must do so based on his own statements and not silly third party attributions that his opponents make to him. http://www.nanowisdoms.org/nwblog/wp-content/uploads/documents/nanowidsoms-er-remarks-by-the-aga-khans-iii-iv-on-various-religious-and-intellectual-issues-in-islam.pdf Finally, someone remarked about seeing the Aga Khan with women in bikinis. Two things: Ismailis are not against women wearing bathing suits and Ismailis don't believe in the Hijab or face veils or anything of that sort - these things do not come from Islam originally, they come from Byzantine and Sassasnian cultures and were imported by the Abbasids to become cultural norms. I know I know, you dont' like it. Well...deal with it. This is the Ismaili way. Secondly, there are numerous photoshopped photos of the Aga Khan going around. Here are a few that we exposed as fake: [MOD NOTE: Pictures of females with immodest dress are not allowed on SC.]
  2. The accusation that Ismailis have abandoned the Shariah and are therefore not true Muslims is nothing but BS. HEre is why: the Shariah during the first 5 centuries of Islam was NOT the basis for who is a Muslim and who is not - this is the research of W.C. Smith, a renowned scholar of religion and someone very sympathetic to Islam and Muslims. In fact, it is totally historically incorrect to claim that Islam = Obeying Law. The latest research in Islamic studies, most recently in the book "What is Islam" by Shahad Ahmed has totally refuted and demolished the theory that Islam is equal to and synonymous with Law/Fiqh/Shariah. There are ALTERNATIVE ways of being Muslim and doing Islam without Law/Fiqh/Shariah being the basis. Many Sufi groups over history - Sufism is the most popular pervasive form of Islam - and Ismailis have enacted Islam without Law/Fiqh/Shariah being the definition of Islam. This does NOT mean libertinism. Instead, today for Ismalis, what it means is that Ethics, Value and Virtue and Adab - which are ways of behaving - have replaced the Legal-Form or Fiqh form of the Shariah. So the Shariah is an intellectual shariah consisting of ethical practices, discplines, and virtues and the religious practices are Tariqah practices
  3. Hazrat Ismail was appointed by his father Imam Jafar as his successor. The person who said this is based on Ismaili forgeries is wrong. Two early Twelver authors, al-Nawbakhti and Qummi, wrote in their respective works that Imam Jafar appointed Ismail as the next Imam. You can read the details here: http://ismailignosis.com/2014/10/02/who-succeeded-imam-jafar-al-sadiq-seven-proofs-for-the-imamat-of-imam-ismail-ibn-jafar/
  4. Like Sufi Tariqahs that practice in Jamatkhanas and Khanaqas and Ribats - where admission is only open to those who gave bayat to the Murshid of the Tariqah, the Ismaili Jamatkhana during prayer time service is only open to Ismailis who gave bayah to the Imam of the Time. It is a very logical idea - the word bayah means buying - selling; and the bayah between Murid and Murshid is a spiritual covenant that involves both parties making promises to one another. The Ismaili Tariqah rituals are part of that bayah between each Ismaili murid and the Imam of the Time; non-murids have no rights to this bayah because they have not taken it - so therefore they have no rights to access the Jamatkhana services all of which express in ritual, the Imams relationship to his murids. Why are we starting out with the assumption that by default, all religious practices must be public! Who ever said that. The Quran even says to ask permission before entering any house. The jamatkhana is the House of the Living Imam and one needs his permission to enter - nobody has any rights to enter a private space.
  5. Everything you guys have mentioned proves you did not read the entire article - or the article at all. The historical evidence from Twelver authors - al-Qummi and al-Nawbakhti, from Ismaili sources - Ja'far ibn Mansur al-Yaman, and even from Sunni sources show very clearly that Imam Jafar indeed designated Ismail as his successor. The academic historians like Walker, Daftary, Momen, and Sachedina ALL agree that Mawlana Isma'il was the designated successor of Imam Jafar - so are you saying these non-Ismaili historians are all colluding to fabricate this? Or perhaps they - and the other sources are correct and you guys are covering up a clear historical fact? Then you have Bada narrations from Saduq which clearly confirm that Imam Ismail was given nass - why else do you need Bada narrations to argue that Allah changed His Mind and revoked the nass of Isma'il? WHen the tenth twelver Imam appointed his older son as successor, and then he died - why did the tenth Imam refer back to the case of Ismail ibn Jafar's death in order to designate al-Askari as his new successor. Everything said above is present in your twelver sources - including Isma'il's designation and the various Bada narrations. How do you explain that? Do you profess the ridiculous belief that Allah did not know of Ismail's death and that this was new information made known to Allah (bada'-li Allah) as per YOUR own hadiths? There is just no case for the Imamat of Kazim. All the hadiths you quoted above are from books written after the death of the 11th Imam and the occultation of the 12th. Read Proof #5 on the website - your oldest hadith books that are written before the 12th Imam contain no mention of there being only 12 Imams. This belief is a later invention used to justify the hidden Imam.
  6. This article presents Seven Proofs for the Succession of Isma'il ibn Ja'far and his descendants to the Imamat "Our branch of Shia Islam, in that particular generation of the family, accepted the legitimacy of the eldest son, Isma‘il, as being the appointed Imam to succeed and that is why they are known as Ismailis." - Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV (Forty-Ninth Hereditary Imam of the Shi‘i Isma‘ili Muslims) Read the full article here: http://ismailignosis.com/2014/10/02/who-succeeded-imam-jafar-al-sadiq-seven-proofs-for-the-imamat-of-imam-ismail-ibn-jafar/ The Prophet Muhammad owned race horses - it is mentioned in several hadiths too. Islam does not demand that its Imam live an ascetic monkish lifestyle.
  7. Article: 7 Proofs for the Succession of Imam Isma'il ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq "Our branch of Shia Islam, in that particular generation of the family, accepted the legitimacy of the eldest son, Isma‘il, as being the appointed Imam to succeed and that is why they are known as Ismailis." - Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV (Forty-Ninth Hereditary Imam of the Shi‘i Isma‘ili Muslims) Read the full article here: http://ismailignosis.com/2014/10/02/who-succeeded-imam-jafar-al-sadiq-seven-proofs-for-the-imamat-of-imam-ismail-ibn-jafar/
  8. Seven Proofs that Imam Isma'il ibn Ja'far was the Successor to Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq: Read Full Article here http://ismailignosis.com/2014/10/02/who-succeeded-imam-jafar-al-sadiq-seven-proofs-for-the-imamat-of-imam-ismail-ibn-jafar/ "Our branch of Shia Islam, in that particular generation of the family, accepted the legitimacy of the eldest son, Isma‘il, as being the appointed Imam to succeed and that is why they are known as Ismailis." (Forty-Ninth Hereditary Imam of the Shi‘i Isma‘ili Muslims) Summary of the Seven Proofs Below is a summary of the proofs. Please click on the proof number to jump directly to a specific proof. Taken individually or collectively, these Seven Proofs demonstrate that the legitimate successor and true Imam after the Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq is Mawlana Isma‘il ibn Ja‘far and that the Present and Living Imam of all Shi‘i Muslims must be the direct lineal descendant of Isma‘il ibn Ja‘far. Proof #1: Imām Ja‘far designated Mawlānā Ismā‘īl as the next Imam by the rule of nass as per Twelver, Ismaili, Sunni and academic sources. Proof #2: The only way to deny or negate the nass of Mawlānā Isma‘il is through contradictory hadiths presented in later Twelver hadith books. Proof #3: Isma‘il’s death before Imam Ja‘far is not confirmed and may have been staged to protect him — as he was reportedly seen by eyewitnesses after his alleged death. Proof #4: Even if Isma‘il had died before his father, the Imamat continued in Isma‘il’s son, Muhammad ibn Isma‘il, whom Isma‘il had appointed as his own successor. Proof #5: Earliest Shi‘i hadiths lack the mention of Twelve Imams but instead predict exactly the first eighteen Imams in the Isma‘ili lineage of Imamat. Proof #6: With the exception of the Nizari Ismaili Imamat, all other Shi‘i Imamat lineages have hidden Imams. This contradicts the Qur’anic definition of Imamat which requires the Imam always be present and manifest (mubin) in the world. Proof #7: Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV is the forty-ninth hereditary Imam of Shi‘i Islam in direct, documented, lineal descent from Mawlana Isma‘il ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq. As the only present (hadir), manifest (mubin) and living (mawjud) hereditary Imam, with a documented and validated lineage, Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni’s very existence is itself confirmation of his Imamat and that of his ancestors. Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV visiting his Ismaili followers in Tajikistan, 2008http://ismailignosis.com/2014/10/02/who-succeeded-imam-jafar-al-sadiq-seven-proofs-for-the-imamat-of-imam-ismail-ibn-jafar/
  9. Feel free to contact me at IsmailiGnosis@gmail.com to further discussion - Agora and I AM
  10. Ruwayd, 1. Which one is it? The Imam is the manifestation of Allah or the Imam is Allah? There is a BIG difference between these two positions and you yourself are inconsistent on what exactly you are arguing – you keep shifting from one position to another. My position is clear – Ismaili Shi’i theosophy from the beginning has maintained that the Imam is the locus of manifestation of the Names/Attributes of Allah. This is evident in the teachings of Imam al-Baqir and Imam al-Sadiq (who said “We are the Most Beautiful Names of Allah; We are the Face of Allah; We are the Hand of Allah; We are the Tongue of Allah; We are the Eye of Allah”). This also continued in the Fatimid da’wah according to which the Imams are the locus of manifestation or the mathal (likeness, symbol, similitude) of the Universal Intellect and the Living Names of Allah on earth. None of this is shirk or against the Qur’an – as everything in the Universe, to one degree or another, is the locus of manifestation of the Names of Allah. This has always been the Shi‘a Isma‘ili position from the beginning. Your argument that the Ismailis say that the Imam is Allah from the time of Aga Khan I to 1956 is simply false. Now, if you want to quote an unnamed Ismaili saying “Our Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is like your Jesus Christ” – that is simply not credible by any standards. One unnamed Ismaili Muslim does not speak for the community of Ismailis, nor does he speak for the Imam. If you want to be a real researcher on what is official Ismaili doctrine, then you must either quote an Ismaili Imam or an official Ismaili source – and there are many being published by academia today. Here is what the Ismaili Imams or other official sources from Aga Khan I to 1956 have said: a) Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah’s guidance at the 1945 Mission Conference held in Dar es Salaam – which should be considered the official Ismaili position on these issues. I am going to quote this again for you: “You read my farmans that I made in Bombay in 1905/06, interpreted by Kamadia Hajee, where I explained fully that there is a fundamental difference between Ismailism and Christianity. In Christianity they believe that Jesus the man was God Almighty. For the Ismailis, during the 60 years of his life, ‘Ali on earth was the prisoner of the material world, limited by it and suffering constantly. When we think of ‘Ali, it is not the man during these 60 years, but the eternal that came from God and returned to God direct… These are the things which must be understood, that according to the Ismaili religion Allah is the ocean. Ali, during his life on earth, was the river, separated from the ocean of the Almighty - separated from it and running towards it - overcoming all material resistance and running towards its origin… the Imam is the Commander of the Faithful, the khalifa of God and the Messenger on earth.” (Aga Khan III, Mission Conference 1945, Dar es Salaam) Your only response to this was “I don't know what the Mission Conference is or where you're taking this quote from. YOU YOURSELF QUOTED FROM THIS DOCUMENT IN YOUR LAST POST. Look at the image you posted at the end of your post – it begins with “Extract from the Address of Hazrat Imam Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah at Ismailia Mission Conference (Dar es Salaam, 1945). The quote above is taken from the minutes of this same Mission Conference – you have only quoted one part of it, I have the entire document and what you see above is from there. You are either a complete ignoramus for not knowing this or you do know this and chose to only quote parts of it that suited your misleading purpose. So either you are an poor researcher or a simple liar. According to the above quote of Aga Khan III made in 1945 (pre-1956), the Imam leads the Murid to Allah – as the intermediary and intercessor to Allah - just as the River leads to the Ocean. Furthermore, the Imam defined himself as Commander of the Faithful, Khalifa of God (khalifat Allah) and the Khalifa of the Messenger (khalifatu Rasul Allah) on earth. That is a far cry from Imam = Allah. So by this one statement, your entire hypothesis – misleading and inaccurate as it as - is completely invalidated. b )In the Khoja Case which took place during the Imamat of Aga Khan I, the Aga Khan claimed the following as stated by the Summary of the Judgement: (http://www.ismaili.n...ource/khoj.html) “…the first defendant Aga Khan, who on his part alleges that he is and his ancestors in the long line of hereditary descent have successively been the Imams or spiritual chiefs of the Shia Imami Ismailis.” So even Aga Khan I claims to be the Spiritual Chief of the Shia Imami Ismailis, he does not claim to be God Himself. The summary also reads: “The defendant the Imam and the other defendants who were in the same interest, maintained that Pir Sadardin was a Shia of the Imami Ismaili persuasion, a Dai (missionary) of one of the direct lineal descendants of the Imam. That from the time of the first conversion till now the Khoja community has been and still is of the Shia Imami Ismaili persuasion and is and always has been bound in close ties of spiritual allegiance to the ancestors of the Aga Khan the Imam, whom the Khoja community have always regarded and still regard as their Moorsheds or spiritual heads.” The Aga Khan I declared himself as the Spiritual Guide (murshid) of the Ismailis. He never defined himself as God. He wrote: “The connection between a Spiritual Guide and his disciples depends on the sincerity and purity of mind. This business between a Spiritual Guide and his disciples is not compulsory or imperative. I too do not require anything from any person by compulsion, but only from love and good will.” (Imam Aga Hasan ‘Ali Shah, The Times of India, April 22, 1866) So your entire statement is complete hogwash and must be dismissed. 2. The term mazhar has a defined meaning – there is no room for interpretation that strays from this meaning. Once again, what a bunch of individual Nizari Ismailis think is irrelevant. If you want to have a discussion about what are Nizari Ismaili beliefs officially, then we can only go to official sources. The official source in this case is Aga Khan IV and Aga Khan III. “Even with the "mazhar" proclamation that was made in 1975, there is no one right interpretation that your Imam has mandated for the term "mazhar." The Imam has mandated the word and definition itself. There is no “interpretation” to be sought here – the word mazhar is clear in its meaning as “locus of manifestation” – a noun of place in Arabic just as masjid is the “place of sujud”. I have shown you four scholarly definitions of the term mazhar, all of which converge, and in none of them does mazhar mean “manifest” or “copy”. A mazhar of God is not identical to God. The mazhar is just a mirror, a locus of manifestation, a place where an object reveals itself without itself being contained or constrained by the locus – that is the technical, grammatical and etymological meaning of the word. You seem to lack any background in theology and philosophy. Either you incredibly ignorant or you are purposely dismissing scholarly evidence and sources which I have put before your eyes on this forum because they completely destroy your argument on this. Let me add that there is no one correct interpretation of the vast majority of Nizari Ismaili doctrines...not even close! There is nothing you, Khalil / Ismailite, can point to that explicitly lays out what "is" and "isn't" in Nizari Ismailism By virtue of your statement above, then everything you are been arguing and saying here is wrong and incorrect. What right do you have to speak on official Ismaili beliefs? You are judging by a double standard – its okay for you to define Ismaili beliefs, but it’s not okay for anyone else to? I have been quoting you statements from the Aga Khans which are official but it’s clear that any piece of evidence that does not conform to you agenda, you totally ignore. While it is true that Shia Ismaili Islam is not a dogmatic faith and belief is not enforced upon anyone, the Ismaili Imams do provide guidance on matters of belief and doctrine which are essential and general parameters within which the Murid is free to form his personal understanding of faith. Indeed, it is the mandate of the Imam to safeguard the Murid’s right to personal intellectual search and not merely to dictate cut and dry positions. “Ismailism has survived because it has always been fluid. Rigidity is contrary to our whole way of life and outlook.” (Aga Khan III, Memoirs: World Enough and Time) In esoteric Shia Islam, each Murid has their own personal spiritual bond and relationship with the Imam – in what Henry Corbin calls a “One for One” relationship. How the Murid perceives the Imam in this relationship is his or her personal matter. That being said, the Aga Khan III has stated: “But anybody who considers me God at a Shariati level is no better than an idol worshipper.” (Aga Khan III, quoted in Dr. Hasan Nathoo, My Glorious Fortnight with Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, London 1988) 3. The quotes I provided show without a doubt that Imam Nizar had male progeny and descendants. We know from the historical record that Imam Nizar was survived by at least two sons and grandsons – because some of them staged revolts against the Mustalian Caliphs in Cairo. With regard to the Nizari descendants, the scholar Paul Walker writes: "Several members of the caliphal family, however, fled to the far West, among them specifically three of Nizar's brothers, Muhammad, Ismail, and Tahir, and a son of his named al-Husayn… Thus a small coterie of dissidents and Nizari supporters gathered somewhere in the West (the Maghrib) waiting for an opportunity to reassert their claim(s) to the Imamate.” (Paul Walker, Fatimid History and Ismaili Doctrine, 32) With regard to Daftary’s statement – I hope you can see that he affirms Nizari progeny most explicitly. The Imam Nizar died in prison - obviously there will was no public record of his designating a successor as he probably could not even leave a will and if he did, it was not available due to the circumstances. However, we know without a doubt that Imam Nizar was survived by progeny (at least two sons and a grandson) and we know that they were powerful enough to set up a base in the Magrhib. Furthermore, the document from Hasan-i Mahmud (“Haft Bab Baba-yi Sayyedna) who was contemporary to Imam Hasan ala-dhikrihi salaam refers to special correspondence between the Nizari Imams and Hasan-i Sabbah which took place and was recorded in books which are no longer extant today. Finally, I have referenced both Nizari and non-Ismaili historians and scholars who AFFIRM THE NIZARID LINEAGE OF IMAM HASAN ALA-DHIKRIHI AL-SALAAM. They are: Hasan-i Mahmud (“Haft Bab Baba-yi Sayyedna”, “Diwan-i Qa’imiyyat”), Jamal al-Din Ibn ‘Inaba (“Umdat al-talib fi ansab al-Abitalib”), Ibn Qalanisi (“Dhay tarikh Dimishq”), and Ibn Zafir (“Akhbar duwal al-munqat’a”). Peter Lamborn Wilson and Hakim Bey are not scholars in this specific area, they don’t reference any primary sources and what they have written is their mere personal interpretation to fit with their own agendas. It is also worth noting that Nasir al-Din Tusi wrote a horoscope for the Nizari Imam Ala al-Din Muhammad which traces the Nizari lineage of Imam Hasan ala-dhikrihi al-salaam back to Imam Nizar – and this is a very early source which predates even what the later historians have written. So you cannot maintain that there is no evidence of the Nizari descent of the Alamut Imams because several historians and sources – some of them contemporary to that time – affirm the Nizarid lineage of the Alamut Imams. As for Daftary and his credibility – your claim that he is bias is totally false and not credible because YOU YOURSELF ARE BIASED. You do not have any qualifications in the study of Islamic history or Ismaili theology, nor do you have any research publications on any of these subjects. Obviously, since you merely a hate mongerer, you will claim that anyone who says something against your agenda must be biased. Of course, the real world does not work that way and most people are not as stupid as you are. 4. You are outright lying when you say the Imam personally profits from the community’s offerings. The Aga Khan has said countless times in interviews that the funds from the community are separate from his personal assets. In the 1979 interview quoted in my last post, the Aga Khan clearly stated that although he can retain 10% of the community’s offerings, in reality 150% of the funds he receives are returned to the community. So that puts the 1949 Life quote in context. The Will of Aga Khan III read in 1957 also clearly differentiated the Imamat assets which were bequeathed to Aga Khan IV and the personal assets of the Aga Khan III which were inherited by his two sons and his wife. The following words of Aga Khan III in his Memoirs speak to the silly and exaggerated claims people have made of his personal wealth: “About my own personal wealth a great deal of nonsense has been written. There must be hundreds of people in the United States with a larger capital wealth than mine; and the same is true of Europe. Perhaps not many people, in view of the incidence of taxation, even in the United States, have the control over an income that I exercise; but this control carries with it -- as an unwritten law -- the upkeep of all the various communal, social and religious institutions of my Ismaili following, and in the end only a small fraction of it -- if any – is left for members of my family and myself. When I read about the "millions of pounds a year" I am supposed to possess, I know only that if I had an income of that size I should be ashamed of myself. There is a great deal of truth in Andrew Carnegie's remark: "The man who dies rich, dies disgraced." I should add: The man who lives rich, lives disgraced. By (Aga Khan III, Memoirs of the Aga Khan: World Enough and Time) 5. The Aga Khan is the Murshid of the Tariqah and thus he does not perform the practices done by the Murids. The Murshid is different from Murid and everyone acquainted with Sufism knows that the Murshid is not subject to the practices which the Murids must perform. The Murshid prescribes practices for the spiritual health of the Murids but he himself does not have to take his own medicine. Spiritual medicine is for the sick, not for those in proper health. Would you tell her your doctor to ingest the pills that he has prescribed for you? Marriage in Islam is a social contract. It does not matter if the Aga Khan or his children are married by Shia maulvis or Sunni imams. It has nothing to do with Tariqah matters at all. And you don’t know and cannot prove that the Aga Khan’s children do not perform Ismaili rituals. On the contrary the Aga Khans children were instructed in Shia Ismaili Islam and do perform Ismaili rituals – they just don’t do it publically – but people have witnessed them directly performing Ismaili rituals such as the Dua. The Ismaili missionary Kamaluddin Ali personally instructed the Aga Khan’s children in Ismaili Muslim doctrines and beliefs. 6. Regarding the Ali-Allah matter – the term Ali-Allah or Aliyyullah means Exalted of Allah. It does not mean Ali is Allah. The quote from Aga Khan III in the Mission Conference 1945 refers to Ali-Allah (Exalted of God). The Old Du’a as far back as at least 1905 contained the line Ali-Allah (Exalted of God). Furthermore, some of the tasbihat and supplications begin with Ali-Allah (Exalted of God) even today and the Haji Babi Case document quotes one of these supplications which begins with Ali-Allah. As for the statement Ali sahi Allah (Ali truly Allah) – such a statement and other statements must be taken in the general context of Shi’ite Muslim theology. All of your arguments FAIL to take into account this context. You claim that myself or others are giving our own interpretation to statements about mazhar, etc, but in reality you are the one giving your own SUBJECTIVE and ERRONEOUS understanding to them because all of Shia Ismaili Islam in the modern period and in the past must be seen in the context of its history and doctrine. In Shi’a Muslim theology, God Himself – that is, the Divine Essence is absolutely transcendent, unknowable and beyond all positive description. Nothing describes God’s Essence and He is simply greater than all else. Below the level of the Essence there are the Names and Attributes (asma wa sifat) of God which are describable and conceivable via the Most Beautiful Names which have been revealed in the Qur’an and other Scriptures. These are theological points which Sunni Islam, Sufi Islam, Shia Twelver Islam and Shia Ismaili Islam all subscribe to albeit in different ways. For example, in Sunni Asharite theology, the Names of God are not God and not other than God but they are clearly distinct from the Essence of God. In Shia Islam, the metaphysical Reality of the Imam – what is known as the “Light” of the Imam is equivalent to the Level of God’s Names and Attributes while the Essence of God remains absolutely transcendent and exalted above all things and realities including the Light of the Imam. When it is said that Ali sahi Allah, the word ‘Ali refers to the eternal Light of the Imam and not the historical Imam and thus ‘Ali refers to the Names/Attributes of God – precisely because the Light of the Imam = Divine Names and Attributes. Even when the Ginans speak of ‘Ali, they are not speaking of the historical Imam; they are speaking of ‘Ali as the Light of God’s Names and Attributes. This ties back to the quote of Aga Khan III in 1945: “For the Ismailis, during the 60 years of his life, ‘Ali on earth was the prisoner of the material world, limited by it and suffering constantly. When we think of ‘Ali, it is not the man during these 60 years, but the eternal that came from God and returned to God direct… These are the things which must be understood, that according to the Ismaili religion Allah is the ocean. Ali, during his life on earth, was the river, separated from the ocean of the Almighty - separated from it and running towards it - overcoming all material resistance and running towards its origin.” (Aga Khan III, Mission Conference, Dar es Salaam 1945) The historical Imams on earth – the Imams who are born, live and die and who are themselves the purest servants of God – are the terrestrial loci of manifestation (mazahir) of the Light - the Divine Names and Attributes. So let us simply as follows: The Essence of God – absolutely transcendent and unknowable The Divine Names and Attributes = Light of the Imam = Ontological Imam The historical Imam = locus of manifestation of the Divine Names/Attributes Your entire critique is based upon a CONFUSION of these different levels and planes of theology. However, you wish to remain ignorant of these theological points in order to advance a misleading agenda and through positing a “strawman” argument which you then try and argue against. In reality, your whole argument and hypothesis is based on a false and childish understanding of Shia Ismaili Muslim theology – so the only thing you are proving wrong are your own ignorant opinions. “The Essence of God is forevermore and absolutely unknowable. What can be knowable in God, the unknown wishing to be known, are His Names and Attributes. The Imam, in the metaphysical and ontological sense, is the locus of manifestation, the epiphanic place, of the divine Names. As for the terrestrial Imam, the wali, he is the locus of manifestation of the cosmic Imam... The terrestrial imam, Friend or Ally (wali) of God is, on the perceptible level, a manifestation of the celestial, archetypal, cosmic Imam.” (Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, 388, 198) In this light, the Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, has declared: “It is because of us that God is known and because of us that He is worshipped… God made us His Eye among his worshippers, His Speaking Tongue among His creatures, His Hand of kindness and mercy stretched out to His servents, His Face by which one is led to Him, His Gate that leads to Him, His Treasure in heaven and on earth…It is by our worship that God is worshipped. Without us, God would not be worshipped.” (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, quoted in Moezzi, The Divine Guide in Early Shi’ism, 46)
  11. Nobody said Allah is present inside anything or anything. Go and do some reading about the concept of mazhariyya and zuhur. The Quran does say Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth - so clearly Allah is `present`in all realms of reality without being physically contained in them. So what if the Imam`s daughter is married to a Christian. Christians are not kafirs or mushrikeen, they are People of the Book and monotheists. The Quran says that Christians will get salvation too. Seriously, that is a very silly point to make. All human beings are created from One Soul as the Quran says. It does not matter what Ahl al Sunnah or what Twelvers consider haraam - the Aga Khan is the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and he makes the decisions - not the Sunni or Twelver scholars who are fallible human beings that can make mistakes and errors.
  12. Ruwayd, 1. You assert that Ismaili doctrine views the Imam as God. This is incorrect and the actual Isma‘ili position is evidenced by the following: a) Supplications in the Ismaili Dua which clearly position the Imams as intercessors and intermediaries (wasilah) between the believers and Allah as shown by 1) use of the expression “bi-haqqi” (by the right of) before the names of the Imams where the prayers and du`as are addressed to Allah (“Allahuma”); 2) the use of the word “tawassalu” in the phrase “in times of difficulty seek the mediation (tawassulu) of your mawla, the present and living Shah Karim al-Husayni” – where tawassul is from al-wasilah (meaning: means, medium, intermediary) which the Qur’an uses in 5:35 (“O ye who believe, be aware of God and seek the wasilah unto him”). b) All the Ismaili philosophical literature from the early period and the Fatimid period and Alamut period position the Imam as the mazhar of the Universal Intellect (the Light of Muhammad) or the Divine Word (kalimat or amr Allah) and never as God Himself. In fact, for Ismaili thought, God is the Absolute Reality and totally above and beyond all attributes and descriptions and nothing can be exclusively identified with God. This is also repeated in the modern period in the statements of Aga Khan III and Aga Khan IV. c) The statements of Aga Khan III and Aga Khan IV in the modern period. For example, in the 1945 Mission Conference held in Dar es Salaam, the Aga Khan III said clearly that: “You read my farmans that I made in Bombay in 1905/06, interpreted by Kamadia Hajee, where I explained fully that there is a fundamental difference between Ismailism and Christianity. In Christianity they believe that Jesus the man was God Almighty. For the Ismailis, during the 60 years of his life, ‘Ali on earth was the prisoner of the material world, limited by it and suffering constantly. When we think of ‘Ali, it is not the man during these 60 years, but the eternal that came from God and returned to God direct… These are the things which must be understood, that according to the Ismaili religion Allah is the ocean. Ali, during his life on earth, was the river, separated from the ocean of the Almighty - separated from it and running towards it - overcoming all material resistance and running towards its origin… the Imam is the Commander of the Faithful, the khalifa of God and the Messenger on earth.” (Aga Khan III, Mission Conference 1945, Dar es Salaam) d) The statement of Aga Khan IV at the 1976 All-Ismaili Paris Conference which says: "The Imam to be explained as 'mazhar' of God, and the relationship between God and the Imam to be related to varying levels of inspiration and communication from God to man.” You have lied and stated that mazhar means “copy” or “manifest”, but this is totally incorrect. The word mazhar means “locus of manifestation” as evidenced by the scholarly writings quoted below: “…mazhar, which is grammatically a noun of place derived from zuhur, which means ‘manifestation, outwardness, appearance’. Here the word mazhar is translated as ‘locus of manifestation’.” (Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, 89) “generally speaking, every name of God has loci of manifestation (mazahir, sing. Mazhar) in the cosmos, some obvious and some hidden. The universe as a whole manifests all the names of God. Within the existent things is found every attribute of Being in some mode or another.” (Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, 16) “When the Imam appears to be speaking of his own greatness, it is to be understood that this is nothing but the greatness of God that is being expressed through him, as a mazhar, a locus for the theophanic manifestation of the divine…” (Kazemi, Justice and Remembrance, 184) “One is speaking only of a corporeal receptacle (mazhar), which fulfils the role and function of a mirror.” (Corbin, the Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, 136) Thus, when it is said by Aga Khan IV that the Imam is the mazhar of God – and any other similar statements found in Ismaili literature or Ginans about the Imam being the manifest form or manifestation of God – it does NOT mean that the Imam is God Himself. The mazhar is merely the “place of manifestation” – the mirror in which God’s Names and Attributes are manifest (zahir). Now, you cannot argue and say there is mazhar of God because the Qur’an refers to God as al-Zahir and logically speaking, if God is al-Zahir than He is only Zahir through a mazhar or “locus of manifestation”. Al-Zahir is manifest via the mazhar – there can be no other way. The mazhar, however, is NOT the same as God. The mazhar is merely a mirror, a locus, a place in which the manifestation appears. 2. You assert that the Aga Khan III’s mother, Lady Ali Shah, did not believe in his Imamat. This is also incorrect as the simple statement of facts contradicts this claim: Lady Ali Shah was the strongest supporter of the Aga Khan since he became Imam at age 8; she assisted him in his younger years in managing the communal affairs of the Jamat; she testified in his favour during the Haji Bibi case – a case where the Plaintiffs were challenging the Imamat of the Aga Khan and asserting that the Khoja Ismailis were actually Twelvers; Lady Ali Shah in her final days sent a message of blessing and support for the Ismaili Jamat. All of these FACTS (as related in the books of KK Aziz, and the Aga Khan’s own Memoirs) clearly contradict the idea that Lady Ali Shah did not accept her son as the Imam of the Time. Below is what the late Aga Khan wrote about his beloved mother: “My mother, who had insisted on the educational discipline of my early boyhood, was as shrewd and watchful as she was loving. She and I remained, throughout her long life, in the closest, most affectionate intimacy. Every night in those years I would go to her apartments and join with her in prayer -- that prayer for unity, for companionship on high, which is the core of Muslim faith. This shared experience gave us both, I think, the strength to bear our load of fatigue and anxiety, mental and spiritual, which was by no means light during these difficult years. But my mother's religion was resolutely practical as well; she saw no virtue in faith without works, and from the outset of my public career I accepted and sought to practice the same standards.” (Aga Khan III, Memoirs: World Enough and Time) It is therefore totally implausible, incredible and simply untrue that Lady Ali Shah did not believe in her son’s Imamat – when in reality, she was the biggest supporter of the Aga Khan III and his Imamat activities. Lady Ali Shah’s practice of Islam was an Islam of mysticism and spirituality. The Aga Khan III describes his mother’s religious beliefs as follows: “In addition, my mother was herself a genuine mystic in the Muslim tradition (as were most of her closest companions); and she habitually spent a great deal of time in prayer for spiritual enlightenment and for union with God. In such a spirit there was no room for bigotry. Like many other mystics my mother had a profound poetic understanding. I have, in something near ecstasy, heard her read perhaps some verses by Roumi or Hafiz, with their exquisite analogies between man's beatific vision of the Divine and the temporal beauty and colors of flowers, the music and magic of the night, and the transient splendors of the Persian dawn.” (Aga Khan III, Memoirs: World Enough and Time) “My mother gave evidence on my behalf and was complimented by the judge, who said that she had "displayed an extraordinary memory." (Aga Khan III, Memoirs: World Enough and Time) “My work in this international field, and its crown and climax in my year as President of the League, had especially delighted my beloved mother. When I first went to Geneva she was over eighty, and she followed my work there with unflagging interest. Each year that I went to India we talked together as fully and as frankly about this as we had, throughout my life, shared our interests, our joys and our sorrows.” (Aga Khan III, Memoirs: World Enough and Time) “A few minutes after I reached her bedside, her eyes opened, and she recognized me. Then in the way that all true Muslims would ask, who seek to follow the Prophet's example and attain a safe and quiet journey from the midst of the living, she achieved peace and happiness and that final "Companionship on High" for which all yearn.” (Aga Khan III, Memoirs: World Enough and Time) 3. You assert that Imam Nizar did not have children. This is completely incorrect and is contradicted by actual scholarship - historians such as Farhad Daftary, Paul Walker, and medieval historians write that Imam Nizar had sons and grandsons – and some of them even rose in revolt against the later Fatimids. See Daftary’s long History and Paul Walker’s recent book Fatimid History and Doctrine. Below are some relevant quotations from these sources: “It is a historical fact that Nizar did have male progeny. Some of these Nizarids even launched unsuccessful revolts against the later Fatimids, claiming the caliphate. The last of these revolts was led in 556/1161 by a grandson of Nizar.” (Daftary, The Ismailis, 326) “There were many who thought that that Nizar died in prison at Alexandria; history records that he left behind a male progeny who continued to sporadically fight the Cairo regime.” (Nasseh Ahmad Mirza, Syrian Ismailism, 6) “Only one of al-Nizar's sons was arrested with him, and the other son disappeared in Alexandria, who was neither arrested nor recognised." (Hafiz Abru, d. 833/1430, “Majma al-Tawarikh-i Sultaniyya”, 242) “Hasan bin Sabbah introduced an Imam to his successors during his death-bed.” (Ibn Muyassar, d. 1278, "Tarikh-i Misr", 68) 4. The descent of the Aga Khan and the Alamut Imams from Imam Nizar is well attested to in the sources. Firstly, the only CONTEMPORARY sources of that period are the “Diwan-i Qa’imiyyat” and the “Haft Bab Baba-yi Sayyedna” written by Hasan-i Mahmud al-Salah. Both these contemporary sources CONFIRM the Nizari descent of Imam Hasan ala-dhikrihi al-Salaam. Secondly, there are NON-ISMAILI historians whose works also CONFIRM the Nizari genealogy of the Imams of Alamut. They are Jamal al-Din Ibn ‘Inaba (“Umdat al-talib fi ansab al-Abitalib”), Ibn Qalanisi (“Dhay tarikh Dimishq”), and Ibn Zafir (“Akhbar duwal al-munqat’a”). So there you have it – both Nizari and non-Nizari sources confirm the Nizari geneaology of the Imams of Alamut from which the Aga Khans descend. Further, when the Aga Khan’s letter asserting his lineage to Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi talib was read at the Amman Conference – where leadership of Sunni and Twelver Islam (including Ayatullahs, Muftis, Shaykhs, etc) was present – there was not a word of opposition of disagreement from any of the Muslim leadership about his genealogical claim. Even Farhad Daftary, whom you say is not Ismaili, has said publically that there are “no issues” with the Aga Khan’s genealogy from the Imam ‘Ali. End of Story. 5. You falsely claim the Aga Khan personally profits off the offerings (i.e. zakat, dasond) which the Murids give. This is absolutely untrue. The Aga Khan’s personal assets and the Imamat’s assets (which consist of the dasond and offerings of the Ismaili murids) are kept and accounted for separately – and they are only used for the Jamati and communal affairs of the Ismailis; they are NOT used by the Aga Khan for his personal living. The Aga Khan has stated this publically in numerous interviews quoted below: “There is a great difference between wealth which comes from the faith and is used for the faith and personal wealth used for the individual. The Imam has responsibility for significant resources but they in no way cover the needs we have, and never will.” Financial Times Interview, Rachel Morarjee, ‘Coffee with the FT: HisHighness the Aga Khan’ (London, United Kingdom) ·· incomplete 26 September 2008, http://www.nanowisdo...rg/nwblog/9028/ ITV: You have immense wealth, both private and institutional. Where does all that wealth spring from? AK: “Well, the institutional wealth is that which comes from people who practise the faith. It comes from the institutions themselves which, if they are successful develop their own wealth in the economic field. Personal wealth I inherited from my father and my grandfather. And the institutional wealth is used exclusively for institutional development. And this I think has been demonstrated by a lot of what has been done in the recent years.” Independent Television (ITV) Interview (London, United Kingdom ) 4 June 1985 http://www.nanowisdo...rg/nwblog/3134/ AK: A lot of stories have been told. My grandfather’s jubilees were events which the Western media thought were very spectacular. The impression was given that very substantial amounts of money went straight into his personal wealth. These funds are offered to the Imam because he is the Imam, and he uses these funds for the benefit of the community. My grandfather left me some wealth which I use for my own living. I have some institutional expenses. If I didn’t occupy the office of Imam, I wouldn’t fly on a private aircraft, I wouldn’t have a secretariat of some 100 people. You really should apply to the Imam the same criteria you would apply to any public office. But that’s never been done, because there has been a sort of inheritance of gloss. Maybe I should have addressed that issue more quickly. I have felt that the area of the world I work in has not had the misperception; that’s much more a Western misperception. Life Magazine Interview, Margot Dougherty and Richard B. Stolley, ‘In Him, East and West Meet’ (New York, USA ) ?? December 1983 http://www.nanowisdo...rg/nwblog/2997/ MC: How is your institution organised, the Imamat of the Ismaili sect? For example, is your own property inseparable from the property of the Imamat itself? AK: The Imamat revenue is given by the community to the Imam. He has a responsibility to manage the Imamat revenue. Now, in Shia Islam, and this is true of the Twelvers and of the Seveners, the Imams or the Ayatollahs, as it would be in Twelver Shi’ism, are allowed or authorised to retain certain percentage of the Imamat revenue. MC: Can you tell me how much that is? AK: In Ismaili tradition, because there is nothing which I have seen in writing, it is 10% at the present time, but the interesting thing is that, in effect, I would say easily 98% of those funds, and in fact at times much more than 98%, in fact probably of the order of 150%, goes back to the community. BBC Radio 4 Interview, Michael Charlton (London, United Kingdom ) 6 September 1979 http://www.nanowisdo...rg/nwblog/1988/ 6. You ask why the Aga Khan does not attend Jamatkhana and lead his murids in prayer. Clearly, you misunderstand and have no clue what a Tariqah is and what a Murshid and what is the status of the Imam in Shia Islam. Shia Ismaili Islam is not merely a madhab or a shari’ah, it is a Tariqah (spiritual brotherhood) of Islam akin to the Sufi Tariqahs and Sufi orders. In the Tariqah, there are Murids and there is the Murshid (the leader of the Tariqah). The Murshid is the spiritual guide – his role is to lead the Murids to spiritual enlightenment and he does so by prescribing spiritual practices for them – including Du’a, Dhikrs, and other rites and rituals. The Murshid himself does not practice what he has prescribed because he has already reached spiritual enlightenment. It is only the murids who must practice the prescribed Tariqah rituals because they are the Seekers on the Path while the Murshid has already completed the Path. The Imams, being pure and sinless are always and perpetually in a state of remembering Allah – they never leave the state of remembrance for any second of their lives. Thus, the Imams do not need to practice any sort of Tariqah rituals because the purpose of rituals is to instill the remembrance of God (the Qur’an says – “Establish the prayer for the sake of My Remembrance”) and the Imams are already and always in a state of Divine Remembrance (dhikr Ilahi). The Imams are the Ahl al-Dhikr mentioned in the Qur’an: “And We sent Messengers from before who were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye realize this not, ask of the People of the Reminder (ahl al-dhikr).” - Holy Quran 16:43 “We are the People of the Remembrance (ahl al-dhikr) and we are the ones who must be asked questions.” - Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, (al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Chapter 20, Hadith # 7) “Indeed, there is a special group (ahl) who belong to the Remembrance (dhikr); they have adopted it in place of the world, such that ‘neither trade nor merchandise’ distracts them from it. They spend the days of their life in it … It is as though they had left this world for the Hereafter, and they are there, witnessing what is beyond this world…”- Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, (Reza Shah-Kazemi, Justice and Remembrance, p. 142) Ruwayd, it’s about time you stopped lying and faced the truth. You are only here on this forum to forward a hate-campaign against the Aga Khan. It appears you have no other purpose except this. I am not sure what religion you practice – because I don’t know of any faith whose exclusive aim and purpose is to hate and slander other people. Do you really think you are fulfilling the purpose of Islam and coming closer to your Lord by slandering a Shi’ite Muslim community, and their hereditary Imam? This Imam Aga Khan IV – whether you believe in him or not - has invested millions of dollars and all of his time and resources into improving the quality of life for ALL PEOPLE on earth through the Aga Khan Development Network? What do you think will happen to you on the Day of Judgment when you are asked about your hateful actions and your lies against a community and a person who have done much good in the world? Are you prepared to face the music?
  13. Ruwayd - this thing about the Aga Khan III's mother not accepting him as the Imam is not very plausible. Because when the Imam was only 8 years old, it was his mother who took charge of the administration and the investments and managing the communal affairs with a council. If she was really against his Imamat, she could have prevented him from having physical access to his murids during his youth and caused many problems early in his Imamat. It was his mother who made sure he got the highest education and once even said "he must be prepared to fulfill his destiny". What the Aga Khan said about his mother and what she said about him and the community clearly show that she very much supported his Imamat and was an instrumental influence in his life. He even dedicated his first book to her and gave her the title "Mata Salamat" (mother of peace). The Aga Khan described his mother as a genuine Muslim mystic who loved poetry. While she may have performed Twelver Shi'i rituals - after all, she was originally from a Twelver royal family in Iran and the Aga Khans had relations with the Nimatullahi Twelver Sufi order - her own religious and spiritual beliefs transcended the theology of Twelver Shiism. Finally, if the Aga Khan's mother did not believe in his Imamat, why did she offer evidence ON HIS BEHALF during the trial? Keeping in mind that the Plaintiffs were all claiming to be Twelvers themselves. As for Daftary - where is the statement that he is a Twelver? Saying that you have it "on good word from someone who would know" is not evidence at all. In fact, your research skills are poor - you don't even know the meaning of the word mazhar and your main source for NIzari doctrine seems to be the subjective opinions of Samir Nurali whom you don't even know personally and found on an anonymous Ismaili chat forum. No serious researcher would take your posts or findings seriously.
  14. With respect to the Ginans, you completely disregard their context. When the Ginans speak of the Imam - they were hardly speaking of the historical Imam. Rather, they were speaking of the Light (nur) of the Imam - the "Archetype" which is manifest through the historical Imam. So when the Ginans say that 'Ali is Allah - they are not talking about the human being historical 'Ali or the historical Imam - they are talking about the Divine Names/Attributes/Person which was manifest in through Imam. There is a big difference here. You also have to take into account the Hindu culture in which the Ginans were preached - it was normal for personalities (mythical, imaginal, etc) to be conceived as Divine Personalities. Amir Moezzi writes about the Ontological Imam - which is the Names/Attributes of God and the Historical Imam who is the human manifestation of the Ontological Imam. Your posts show that you know nothing about the study of religion. You ignore context, interpretation, theological language, symbolism, everything. Your understanding is totally childish and superficial. Those parts of the Ismaili Dua are not shirk at all. They are more examples of tawassul or intercession. There is also difference between saying the Imam is the mazhar (locus of manifestation) of God and saying that the Imam = God. Even the Old Ismaili Du'a is only saying that the Imam is the locus of manifestation of God. "The Imam to be explained as 'mazhar' of God, and the relationship between God and the Imam to be related to varying levels of inspiration and communication from God to man. Mazhar does not mean copy! Seriously, its absolutely pathetic that you are engaging in a discussion like this and don't even know the meaning of words. Absolutely incredible! Exactly - so there is a relationship between God and the Imam - so how can they be exactly the same? Mazhar is an arabic noun of place - it literally means "the place of zuhur (manifestation). My interpretation of mazhar is not my personal opinion - the scholars such as Corbin, Reza Shah-Kazemi, Moezzi and others have written about this term and what it means - locus of manifestation. Your interpretation, however, is dead wrong. You should be ashamed for lying like that. Ali-Allah means "Exalted of God" just like rasul Allah means "Messenger of God" and "Kitab Allah" means "Book of God" Samir Nurali is an individual with his own opinions. What about all the passages of the Dua I quoted which show the Imam is not God and instead distinguish between the Imam and God?
  15. 1. Neither the Aga Khan IV nor the Aga Khan III have claimed to be God. In fact, there is no statement from any Isma'ili Imam where they claim to be God Himself. In 1976, the Ismailia Paris Conference issued a resolution which stated that "the Imam is to be explained as the 'mazhar' of God". A mazhar is a locus of manifestation and is a concept which is prominent in esoteric and Islamic philosophy - especially in the works of Nasir al-Din Tusi, ibn al-Arabi, and even Mulla Sadra. Everything in the universe is a mazhar of God - that is, a sign or mirror which reflects the Names of God, but in Shi'ite belief, the Imam is the greatest mazhar (locus of manifestation) of the Divine Names. 2. Examine the current Isma'ili Du'a and see how it positions the status of the Imam vis a vis the status of God. a) In Part 1, the murid recites "O Allah bestow Your blessings upon Muhammad al-Mustafa, and upon 'Ali al-Murtada, and upon the Pure Imams and upon the Proof of the Command, the master of the Age and the Time, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Husayni. B) In Part 2, the murid declares "there is no god except God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and 'Ali the Commander of the Faithful is the exalted of God" c) In Part 2, the murid declares "in times of difficulty, seek the mediation (tawassalu) of your mawla, the Present and Living Shah Karim al-Husayni" (note, the term tawassul is from "wasila" which means "means", "medium") d) In Part 4, the murid supplices to God and says "O Allah, forgive us our sins, and sustain us, and have mercy upon us, BY THE RIGHT OF (bi-haqqi) Your closest Messengers and Your pure Imams and BY THE RIGHT OF our mawla and our Imam, Shah Karim al-Husayni" e) In Part 6, the murid supplicates to God and says "O Allah, BY THE RIGHT of Muhammad al-Mustafa, 'Ali al-Murtada, Fatima az-Zahra, and Hasan and Husayn...O Allah, BY THE RIGHT OF (bi-haqqi), our mawla 'Ali, our mawla Husayn, (all 49 Imams names are recited) and BY THE RIGHT OF our mawla and our Imam, Shah Karim al-Husayni..." So what we see from the official Ismaili Du'a is supplications which pray to Allah, invoking the right and intercession and mediation of the Imams and the Imam of the Time - something which ALL Shi'a Muslims do. There is absolutely no shirk in this. The Quran in verse 5:35 says "O ye who believe, Be aware of Allah and seek the Means of Approach (al-wasila) unto Him." For Shia Muslims, the Wasilah - the Means/Medium of Approach - unto God is the Prophet Muhammad and the Imams of his Ahl al-Bayt after him. Even Sunni Muslims and Sufis accept the intercession of the Prophet Muhammad and some accept the intercession of the Imams and Awliya. So your argument holds no water - the normative position of the Ismaili Tariqah is clear in the Isma'ili Du'a. The Haji Bibi Case and the Aga Khan Case was not about what official Ismaili doctrine is. It was about whether a particular community amongst the Isma'ilis - the Khojas - were Twelvers, Sunnis or Isma'ilis. The Khojas as you know come from a Hindu context where the relationship between humans and God is conceived differently than in Arab/Persian Islam. In such a context, the Isma'ili Da'is and Pirs found the closest parallel concept to that of Imam/Mazhar and that is the concept of Avatara. The Avatara was the manifestation of Vishnu for the Vaishnavite Hindus and this concept was used to get the Khojas to accept the Nizari Ismaili Imams. In the Indian culture, it was normal to conceive the divine in terms of its human manifestations and much of the opinions and testimony we read in the Court Cases reflects this. None of the Central Asian, Iranian, Arab, Chinese, or other Isma'ilis subscribed to the Khoja ideas of Imams as incarnations of God. This sort of thinking was only prevalent amongst the South Asian communities. Even then, Isma'ilis were not the only ones to draw such parallels - even in Bengali Islam, the Prophet Muhammad was first introduced by the Sufi preachers as the 10th Avatara of Vishnu.
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