"Ismailism pioneered the most daring metaphysical thought in Islam. Its voice, at once original and traditional, should be heard again today — a task of which it seems that the young Ismā‘īlīs are aware." (Henry Corbin)
“The night of mi’rajis the one on which the Prophet revisited his original abode … It is not that only Hazrat ‘Ali’s progeny can attain this status. Whoever is determined enough will be able to reach the goal. It can come in stages, through repeated efforts.”
– Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III, (September 29, 1899)
In the traditional, exoteric (zahir) understanding of Mi’raj(ascension), the Prophet Muhammad travels from the Ka’bah in Makkah to the Sacred Masjid in Jerusalem on the winged horse Buraq. In Jerusalem, after the Prophet Muhammad led a prayer of all Prophets, Buraq ascended with the Prophet through the seven heavens, after which the Prophet experienced his vision of Allah. However, in Ismaili philosophy, the mi’rajconsiders this understanding as symbolic of a deeper, esoteric (batin) explanation, or ta’wil. Read more below.
In Ismaili history, women have not only played important material and political roles. The Ismaili esoteric tradition recognizes a number of women who held important spiritual ranks and performed religious functions alongside the Prophets and Imams: Hazrat Eve with Prophet Adam, Hazrat Hagar with Prophet Abraham, Hazrat Zulaykhah with Prophet Joseph, Hazrat Maryam with Prophet Moses, Hazrat Maryam with Prophet Jesus, Hazrat Khadijah and Hazrat Fatimah with Prophet Muhammad, and numerous other women with the Imams.
Ismaili Gnosis shares two testimonials from two Ismaili Muslims youth who are regular readers of the blog. Like many young people in the modern world, both readers had many questions about their faith and found answers to such questions through Ismaili Gnosis.
“I finally came upon a website called Ismaili Gnosis and I began to read the various articles about topics I previously had questions about. I also joined the Ismaili Gnosis discussion group on Facebook, and I realized that I had finally found what I was looking for.”
“Ismaili Gnosis has unceasingly provided nourishment for my soul. The content on their website, when followed in its logical progression, rebuilds one’s faith and religious convictions.”
We are the Gates of God. We are the medium for His people. He who approaches Him through us is brought near Him. He who seeks our intercession is interceded for. He who seeks His favours through us is favoured by Him. He who turns away from us goes astray.
– Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq
The purpose of this article is two-fold: first, to explain the metaphysics and philosophy of praying to God through supplication or petitionary prayer (du‘a’) and secondly, to explain the metaphysical and Qur’anic basis for seeking the help and blessings of the Imam of the Time and intercessors in general – the Prophets, the Shi‘i Imams, the Sufi saints (awliya’) etc.
Ismaili Gnosis conveys Khushali Mubarak on the occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s birthday. As December 13 is a time when Ismailis all around the world reflect upon the occasion of the birth of the Imam of the Time, Ismaili Gnosis offers a selection of readings on the intellectual validation and esoteric understanding of the Ismaili Imamat.
MESA’s 48th annual meeting will commence in Washington, DC at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on November 22-25, 2014. This year’s panel presentations feature several scholars from the IIS, Harvard and Indiana including Nadia E. Jamal, Shainool Jiwa, Paul E. Walker, Khalil Andani, Daniel Beben and others. Both Ismailism panels take place on Sunday, November 23 at 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM respectively.
1. Discovering and Reinterpreting Key Sources of Ismaili Thought and History
Ismaili Gnosis has created a short survey to determine the sort of topics, subjects and issues most relevant to those wishing to learn more about Ismailism. Please take one minute to fill out the survey as this information will allow Ismaili Gnosis to gear its future articles to your needs. The survey is completely anonymous. Please note that this survey is not related to any Ismaili community institutions.
[Y]ou must have in every walk of your life a logical concept. This does not mean to wipe away faith, but the real principle of Islam is that faith is logical. Islam would not be what it is if it were not logical and this is something you must keep in mind. [B]ecause the very heart of Islam is logical. There is no hocus-pocus. There is no nonsense. It is clear and it is lucid and it is understandable. (Emphasis added.)
Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV, Pakistan, 1960
“We are the House of Muhammad and as such are more entitled to the authority (walāyah) of this affair over you than these pretenders who claim what does not belong to them… By God there is no son of a Prophet other than me among you and among the peoples from East to West.
Imām al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī
The tenth day of Muḥarram, known as the Day of ‘Āshūra’ is when the Battle of Karbala took place – in which Imām al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī, the second hereditary Imām of the Shī‘ī Muslims, along with his family and supporters, was brutally massacred by the armies of Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān.
On Thursday, March 14, Khalil Andani (Master’s Candidate, Harvard University) delivered a presentation on the concept of Knowledge (‘ilm) according to Sayyidnā Nāṣir-i Khusraw. This presentation took place during the 17th annual NMCGSA Graduate Symposium held at the University of Toronto.
“…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 Readthe full article at The Matheson Trust: The Crucifixion in Shi‘a Isma‘ili Islam by Khalil Andani (MTS – Islamic Studies – Harvard, 2014)
“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.
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.
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)
“The Month of Ramaḍān in which was sent down the Qur’ān a guidance for mankind, and manifest proofs of the guidance and the criterion (between truth and falsehood). So whomever among you witnesses the Month, let him fast it.” (Holy Qur’ān 2:185)
Fasting (ṣawm) is among the seven pillars (arkān) of classical Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Islām and the five pillars of classical Sunnī Islām. For Ismā‘īlī gnosis as taught by the Ismā‘īlī Muslim theosophers , each pillar (rukn) of Islām has an exoteric form (ẓāhir), an esoteric meaning (bāṭin), and a spiritual reality which is the esoteric beyond the esoteric (bāṭin al-bāṭin).
“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.
Gnosis is that ‘supreme knowledge’ ‘which unifies and sanctifies’ the human being. (Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred, 41)
Gnosis is not acquired by discursive learning, but it is innate to the human soul and intellect. Gnosis is ‘the basis of the intellect (‘aql)’ and is ‘unwavering in man’. Gnosis is not merely a discursive or rational (fikrī) knowing, but rather, it is direct awareness or recognition. (Sayyidnā Nāsir-i Khusraw, Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn, Chapter 22)