Validating the Shia Imamat – Part 2: The Qur’an on the Purified and Rightly-Guided Possessors of Knowledge

By Mohib Ebrahim

Editor’s Note: Mohib Ebrahim’s article How to Validate the Shia Imamat from the Holy Qur’an presents a novel validation for the manfiest Imamat of the Ismailis based on three facets of the notion of Qur’anic notion of “rightly guided, qualified leadership”. In this we provide excerpts related to the second of the three aspects: interpreting the Qur’an and those with the knowledge to do so.

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Validating the Shia Imamat Part 1: The Qur’an on the Holders of Authority

By Mohib Ebrahim

Editor’s Note: Mohib Ebrahim’s article How to Validate the Shia Imamat from the Holy Qur’an presents a novel validation for the manifest Imamat of the Ismailis based on three facets of the notion of Qur’anic notion of “rightly guided, qualified leadership”. In this post, we provide excerpts related to the first of the three aspects: those vested with the authority to lead.

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How to Validate the Shia Imamat from the Holy Qur’an

By Mohib Ebrahim

Editor’s Note: On August 5th, 1923, a young 16 year old boy — the youngest honorary missionary and member of the Bombay Recreation Club, now the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) — delivered a two hour lecture to “prove the significance and the need of Imamat from the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith.” That boy was Rai. A. M. Sadaruddin, who went on to devote the rest of his life in service to the Imamat and to Ismaili studies and history, culminating in his appointment, personally by Mawlana Hazar Imam, as a member of the first Review Board of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. Learn more about that 1923 event here.

Ninety years later, to the month, we are pleased to bring to you a groundbreaking and compelling piece by Rai Sadaruddin’s grandson, Mohib Ebrahim (founder and publisher of the NanoWisdoms Archive of Imamat Speeches, Interviews and Writings), in which he, following in his grandfather’s footsteps, also validates Manifest Imamat and its necessity but this time from the Holy Qur’an alone. Remarkably, his fresh perspective and innovative method avoids the usual technical debates over the Arabic language and the historical record which this subject never fails to instigate.

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The different historical lineages of the Shi‘i Imams to the present day

What is Shia Islam? A Visual Chart of Different Shia Communities

It is important, therefore, for non-Muslims who are dealing with the Ummah to communicate with both Sunni and Shia voices. To be oblivious to this reality would be like ignoring over many centuries that there were differences between Catholics and Protestants, or trying to resolve the civil war in Northern Ireland without engaging both Christian communities.

Imam Shāh Karīm al-Ḥusaynī Āgā Khān IV

This short article features a visual chart outlining the major differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims and further depicting the major divisions and branches within Shia Islam pertaining to the succession of the Shia Imamat.

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Video: Muslim-Christian Dialogue on Jesus featuring Sunni, Ismaili, Catholic and Protestant Interpretations

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“I think that monotheistic religions, having a common reference to a single God, should and must dialogue. The three religions which Abraham inspired have many more common facets than those which divide them. Religion must be the means by which to affirm the ethical significance of existence, regardless of one’s profession of faith.”
– Imām Shāh Karīm al-Ḥusaynī Āgā Khān IV, 

(Interview with Correre della Sera, Massimo Nava, October 22, 2001)

As the Christmas weekend, it is an appropriate time for Christians and Muslims to read, reflect and understand their beliefs and views on the question of Jesus – his life, spiritual status, mission, and crucifixion – and explore both the difference and the commonality. Most interfaith dialogues between Christians and Muslims feature only the majority perspectives within each faith and neglect the views of Islam’s rich esoteric heritage – as manifest in Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Islam and Sufi Islam. In fact, an engagement between Christianity and the esoteric traditions of Islam can lead to a more fruitful and meaningful dialogue:

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Watch: Academic Lecture on the Ismaili Muslims and the Aga Khan

On Thursday, February 27, 2014, the Aga Khan IV – the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims is scheduled to deliver a speech at a joint session of the Canadian Parliament and Senate.

As this is a time when many people will be asking questions about the history, beliefs and practices of the Ismaiili Muslims and the role of the Aga Khan as their 49th hereditary Imam, we invite our readers to watch this November 2011 academic lecture at the University of Toronto – presented by Khalil Andani (Master’s Candidate at Harvard Divinity School).


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The Prophet Unveiled: What the Qur’an says about Muhammad

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Contemporary discussions about the Prophet Muḥammad’s spiritual function, due to exoteric and literalist influences (such as Wahhabism or the Ahl al-Qur’ān school), have degenerated into a farce in which the Prophet is demoted to a mouthpiece or transmitter of the Qur’ān and nothing more. This conception reduces the august person of the Prophet Muḥammad to a ‘fax-machine’ and fails to appreciate the spiritual depth of his status as Rasūl Allāh (Messenger of God). This important article, published on the Milād al-Nabī – the birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad first commemorated by his spiritual heirs and progeny known as the Fatimid Imām-Caliphs) – seeks to unveil the metaphysical, spiritual, and religious status of the Prophet Muḥammad – based on a simple and straightforward analysis of the verses of the Holy Qur’ān. The article is divided into two sections – the Prophet-Believer Relationship and the God-Prophet Relationship. It will be shown that the Prophet Muḥammad is the “Messenger” (rasūl) of God who reveals not only the Qur’ān but God’s very “Personality” – His Names, Attributes and Qualities – to the Believers. This article assumes that Muhammad is a true Prophet and that the Qur’an is divinely-revealed – see our article Proof of Prophecy for the logical and historical evidence for Muhammad’s prophethood.

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“We come from the Light of God”: Birthday of Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni

Ismaili Gnosis (Ismailism)

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“The Imām knows from which drop of sperm the Imām after him will come”

“His sperm was kneaded along with his intellect.”

“And we come from the Light of God.”

(Imām Ḥasan ‘alā dhikrihi al-salām)

December 13 marks the 77th birthday of Mawlānā Shāh Karīm al-Ḥusaynī (Aga Khan IV), the HaḍirImām (Present Imām) of the Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Muslims.  Imām Shāh Karīm is the forty-ninth hereditary Imām in direct lineal descent from Ḥaḍrat ‘Ali ibn Abi Ṭālib, the first of the Imāms in the Cycle of the Prophet Muḥammad.

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The Crucifixion in Shi‘a Isma‘ili Islam

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“…the conditions of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam change completely as soon as the interlocutor represents not legalistic Islam but this spiritual Islam, whether it be that of Sufism or of Shi‘ite gnosis.”
(Henry Corbin, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, Prologue)

Click Here to Read the full article at The Matheson Trust:
The Crucifixion in Shi‘a Isma‘ili Islam by Khalil Andani (MTS – Islamic Studies – Harvard, 2014)

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The Esoterics (Batin) of Prayer: From Salah to Du‘a’

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This post will address the exoteric (āhir), the esoteric (in), and the reality (aqīqah) of prayer (alāh) and their relationship to the rituals of the sharī‘ah, the practices of the arīqah, and the realities (aqā’iq) of universal spirituality.  In specific, the esoteric relationship between the formal alāh and the Ismā‘īlī Du‘ā’ will be addressed in great detail.

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Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyamah): Isma‘ilī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World” (Part 2)

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“All of these changes suggest that we are moving into a new epoch of history, a new condition of human life.
– Imām Shāh Karīm al-Husaynī Āgā Khān IV

“We, the Imāms in descent from Imām Husayn, are present until today and we shall remain until the Qiyāmah and even after the Qiyāmah.”
– Imam Āgā Shāh ‘Alī Shāh Āgā Khān II

This post continues from Part 1 – Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyāmah): Ismā‘īlī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World”.  In Part 1, we explained and outlined the concept of Qiyāmah in Ismā‘īlī gnosis, and the various signs which would accompany the beginning of the Cycle of Qiyāmah and the advent of the Qā’im al-Qiyāmah. (We advise all readers to go through Part 1 before reading this post).

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Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyamah): Isma‘ilī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World” (Part 1)

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“The Qiyāmah is true and will happen, but a full explanation of it, either in theory or in common doctrine, is not easy.”
– Paul Walker, (Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary, 73)

“We, the Imāms in descent from Imām Husayn, are present until today and we shall remain until the Qiyāmah and even after the Qiyāmah.”
– Imām Shāh Āgā Shāh ‘Alī Shāh

In Islamic thought, the ideas and themes relating to the “end of the world” fall under the doctrine of qiyāmah (“rising”, “resurrection”).  The Qur’an contains hundreds of references to qiyāmah under various names including:  the Day of Resurrection, 2:85; the Day of Mutual Disillusion, 64:9; the Day of Mutual Calling, 40:32; the Day of Decision, 37:21; the Day they are raised up, 7:14; the Day of Judgement, 1:4; the Day of Gathering together, 50:44; the Day they come forth [from the tombs], 70:43; the Day of Imminence, 40:18; the Day when the Hour comes, 30:12; the Day of Reckoning, 14:41.

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Video: Presentation on the Isma‘ili Thought of Nasir-i Khusraw

On November 1, 2012, Khalil Andani delivered a student presentation at Harvard on the Isma‘ili thought of Sayyidna Nasir-i Khusraw.

His presentation – Reconciling Revelation and Philosophy in Isma‘ili Thought – covers the following areas:
a) Historical context of Isma‘ili thought
b) The life of Nasir-i Khusraw
c) The Concept of Tawhid
d) The Concept of Creation
e) Human Intellect and Divine Authority

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The Seven Pillars of Islam: The Esoterics of Walāyah

“Islam is based upon seven pillars: walayah – and this is the most excellent; through it and through the walī (the Imām), the true knowledge of the pillars can be obtained: ṭaharah (purification), ṣalah (prayer)zakah (purifying dues), ṣawm (fasting)hajj (pilgrimage), and jihād (striving).”
– Imām Muḥammad al-Bāqir,
(Qādi al-Nu‘man, Da‘ā’im al-Islām, Prologue, 2)

In the present time, many people have sought to reduce the entire meaning of Islam to the practice of the so-called ‘Five Pillars of Islam’.  In doing so, they flatten and hollow out the theological and intellectual depth of the faith.  As Islam has developed historically, the Pillars have never constituted the entirety of religion.  The Pillars ( belong to a grander and more comprehensive religious framework which includes both theological truths and ritual practices.  This framework traditionally consists of the Roots of Religion (Uṣūl al-Dīn) and the Branches of Religion (Furū‘ al-Dīn) and is articulated using the Qur’ānic metaphor of a tree:

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The Greatness of Ismā‘īlī Muslim Thought: A Tribute to the Ismā‘īlī Philosophers

Click Here To Read the Full Article at Simerg.com

Excerpts from the article:

These Isma‘ili Muslim thinkers did not always agree on everything. In fact, they often used to discuss and debate on many points of disagreement. But such disagreement was governed by a higher sense of responsibility, an ethic of humility, in which they realized that – apart from the Imam himself – a single person cannot grasp all the realities of knowledge.

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The Eternal Imam: Songs of Krishna – Sermons of ‘Alī

Imām ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib once proclaimed this soul-quaking utterance in his “Sermon of the Great Explanation”:

“I am the Sign of the All-Powerful. I am the Gnosis of the Mysteries. I am the Threshold of Thresholds. I am the companion of the radiance of the divine Majesty. I am the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden. I am the Face of God. I am the mirror of God, the supreme Pen, the Tabula secreta.”
– Imām ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib,
(Khuṭbah al-Bayān, Shah-Kazemi, Justice and Remembrance, 187)

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From Ādam to Āga Khān: The Universal Imāmat

“God created my spirit and the spirit of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib two thousand years before He created humankind.  He sent ‘Alī secretly with every prophet and openly with me.”
– Prophet Muhammad

The Imāmat is the office of spiritual and religious leadership recognized in Shī‘ī Islam according to which the Imām is the spiritual and religious successor (waṣī) of the Prophet Muḥammad. While prophetic revelation ended with the Prophet Muḥammad, divine inspiration, spiritual authority, religious guidance, and mystical gnosis continued in the institution of Imāmat.

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